Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Cathedral

Worship - the reverent love accorded a deity.  The ceremonies, prayer or acts by which this love is expressed.  To show honor and love.  It is also the act of sharing common reverence and love with others.  This definition does not include a time or place.  Worship is merely an act that can be performed anywhere and at any time. Be it in a church, an empty football stadium, or a long lonely road before the sun rises.  I grew up believing worship took place inside four walls at appointed times with definite parameters and rules for participation.  As I have matured in age and thinking, studied and participated in many different forms of worship my beliefs have changed.  My favorite cathedral, the place I feel closest to God and most worshipful is not inside four walls in concert with other people, but rather is in the woods and most often alone.

A long run is the perfect way to spend some time in prayerful, communion with the creator.  The one who loves me unconditionally and is always present to hear my complaints, praises, secrets and confessions.  As I run hymns of praise, prayers of thanksgiving and petitions both personal and for friends run through my mind.  A long run strips you down to the bare bones and leaves you vulnerable and open to the hearing the voice of God.

So how exactly is a long run like worship?  On my last run "The Doxology" was on a continuous loop in my brain...."Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above you Heavenly Hosts; Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."  Totally fitting as my runs almost always begin with prayer.  Prayers of thanksgiving for seeing me and my family safely through the night and blessing us with another day.  For giving me a partner in life, love, fitness and health who totally "gets" me. For friends who share goals and dreams and time on the trail. For the beauty of the woods, songs of the birds waking up, the sunrise over the trees, the deer and other wildlife that cross my path as I run. I utter prayers of petition for safety as I run. For God to protect me and my running partners from the pitfalls of the trail; roots, holes, thorn bushes and creepy, crawling creatures.

Running is also a time to face some demons.  Satan will always attack when we are at our most vulnerable and long distance running puts one in a vulnerable physical and mental state. All of my inadequacies and shortcomings are brought into view.  It is very easy to start the comparison game....I'm not fast enough, strong enough, tough enough, etc.,  and even more juvenile thoughts that are too embarrassing to actually list here.  Never mind that my mile pace is faster than this time last year or that my feet and knees are stronger and not putting me on the sidelines because of injury...I'm still not satisfied because I'm still slower than others.  The list goes on and on and could completely ruin a beautiful run if allowed to go unchecked.  I always say that long distance running is as much, if not more, mental as it is physical.  Trust me you will be mentally tested on a long run through the woods. This is where prayers of petition are extra important.  Prayers for help to take every thought hostage and change its course. God is always faithful to remind you of your strength, stamina, determination and desire to improve and finish strong.  When asked He will always provide what is needed to accomplish all our goals.

At the end of the run, no matter where we finish, someone is there to offer encouragement, praise, water, nutrition, whatever we need.  Running partners are the greatest friends and sometimes family a person can have.  Like a congregation of worshippers is faithful to show up for Sunday services, running partners are always faithful to show up for a training run, travel to races together, provide emotional, mental and physical support, whatever is needed.

Hopefully I will see you on the run...maybe even in my favorite cathedral on a Sunday...maybe even a Saturday...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Three's

What's the old saying news comes in three's?  Be it good or bad the news always comes in three's.  Well I have recently received two devastating, sad pieces of news.  They both came a few weeks ago.   
First the results of my mothers PET scan came back and they were not good.  Her cancer has spread.  Not alarmingly but it has spread.  As hard as the last year and a half has been I was not completely prepared for bad news.  However I was not unprepared either.  The thing that keeps me from falling completely apart is my mother.  She has such quiet strength and calmness in her soul that everyone around her is comforted by it.  At a time when we should be comforting her, she comforts us.  She received the news, weighed her options and has moved on to the next level of treatment.  No tears, no why Me's, no negative thoughts of any kind.  Just a positive, hopeful outlook that keeps me strong and moving forward. 
The next bit of news is less devastating but sad nonetheless.  One of my best friends, one from my previous blog, has moved back to her home in Oregon.  Actually as I post this she and her family are on their cross country journey back to the Pacific Northwest with a few stops along the way to visit friends.  This is the friend who I have know the least amount of time but who has changed me for the better.  I'm not yet sure how I am going to navigate the days without her presence.  Coffee at our favorite place is changed, running is changed, Taco Wednesday is changed...everything is forever changed.  I miss my ally, my partner in crime, the one who is always on my side.
Fortunately we live in the digital age, the age of texting, Facebook and Instagram, thus staying in touch will be easy.  We have already planned a trip in September and hopefully we will be able to meet up at a race in January.    However the day to day life without her will take some getting used to.  I am accustomed to texting and suggesting lunch or a run.  Those days are forever gone but not forgotten.  I already miss her...  
For now there is no third piece of news.  Thank God for small rays of light...


 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Tale of Two Friends

What is a friend?  The dictionary definition is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.  This didn't do it for me so I dug a little deeper and I found this.  "A person well known to another and regarded with liking, affection and loyalty".  Almost but not quite...then I found this.  "Friendship is a personal relationship shared between each friend for the welfare of the other, in other  words, it is the relationship of trust, faith and concern for each others feelings.  It is a relationship of mutual caring and intimacy among one another.  A friend is one who knows you as a person and regards you for what you are and not what he or she is looking for in a good friend.  Best friend is one who accepts the good as well bad qualities of his friend and also takes an initiative in correcting and mending them.  Friendship is a distinctive kind of concern for your friend, it is a relationship of immense faith and love for each other. 
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/126704

This definition is as close as any I have read to describing how I feel about my friends.

What is the saying about friendship?  A person is fortunate to have one person she can consider a true friend.  Well if this is the case then I am doubly blessed because I have two women in my life I consider true friends and they came to me under quite different circumstances.

The first friendship was developed over years, nurtured, fed, watered and gently tended.  I met this woman when I was a teenager and she was a child.  I babysat her and her siblings.  Our parents were friends.  We attended church together.  She was cute but a bit annoying and sometimes a pest.  She had a slight crush on my then boyfriend who later became my husband.  She was the kid sister I had always wanted.  After I married and she was a teenager I became her confidant.  Someone she could talk to and look to for advice without judgment.  Later when my life was overwhelmed with work, motherhood and caring for my terminally ill mother-in-law she became my confidant and lifeline.  She helped me take care of my home, babysat my daughters, and most days was just here to listen and provide comfort to me.  Later she moved in with our family while she was in college.  Then again when she was going through her divorce.  I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere along our journey she became closer than a sister to me.  Such an important part of my life that without her my world would be incomplete.  We have seen each other through heartache, joy, marriage, divorce, childbirth and the loss of our fathers (both in the same year).  We know each others histories and secrets.  We don't always see eye to eye but hold a deep and profound love and respect for each other that through it all we remain closer than sisters because we chose each other.

The second friendship formed in an instant.  So fast and furious it caught me off guard.  You see I don't easily open myself up to close relationships.  I hold people at arms length, especially women.  So when I met this woman on New Years Eve 2012 I couldn't believe how much I immediately liked her.  We planned a shopping trip together, which is totally out of character for me, and suddenly the "Sistas" were born.  We share similar beliefs and histories.  The more we talked and grew to know each other we realized how similar we are.  We are both a study of contradictions.  We are strong yet vulnerable; bold yet timid; outgoing yet shy; open yet private; introverts with extrovert tendencies; feminine yet not girly; we are one but two.  So much about the way we approach life is similar that sometimes I feel like we are the same person.  But as I learn more about her history and see how she handles challenges I see how different we are.  Both thoughts are encouraging to me.  I love having someone who I understand and who understands me so completely yet who can still challenge me.  She entered my life like a flash and changed my world completely.  We share a deep and profound love and respect for each other and my world would be incomplete without her in it.

I love these women for similar and different reasons but I love them none-the-less.  They are my running partners, drinking partners, shopping partners, road trippers, sanity savers, and secret keepers.  They are my sisters and my life would not be the same without them.