Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Spirituality of Advent, Day 7, Week 3

Today was my first 14 mile run since mid-September.  And in the course of this amazingly warm day (a high in the upper 60's or even 70 in Baltimore on the winter solstice), I was in touch with so many things that bring joy and that help me to see what I am just a part of that is so much bigger than me.

We can begin with before my run.  I didn't leave until about 6:30 and interacted with both one child and Sherry before the run.  Family is a big part of who I am.  I am not always perfect at being a good family member.  Not the perfect Dad or son or husband or brother by any means.  But I try to always remember the importance of family and I try to make sure that my family members know I care.  I don't always have the opportunity to interact with family before I run in the morning, so it was a great way to start the day.

And if we go back one step further, I walked the dog before I ran.  In fact, I took our dog China for all three walks today.  That is a reflection of a close relationship that I would never ever want to lose.  But it is one that takes time--just like any other relationship.  And being a part of God's kingdom in which we were called on to be stewards for the earth.  This is something much bigger than me--clearly.  

Then, I met a friend to run 14 miles.  We met at the Maryland Zoo.  She had missed a turn to get to the zoo parking lot, so she called and thanks to cell phones in general, my familiarity with the city, and smart phones, I got her safely to meet up with me to run.  I have been running with this friend when we are both healthy for 3 years.  We have been there to support each other through running and personal ups and downs.  Friendship is something bigger than me.  It has to be.  It requires at least two people--except for when I had an imaginary friend named "Adam 12 Roger" as a kid.  (I failed to realize that the on the TV show, the copy was saying "Roger" as in turning the conversation over, not as part of a name...)  

The run, being my first 14 mile run since mid-September, being my first run of more than 10K in two weeks, being my first run after three days off, and being my at a sub-8 pace overall, was challenging.  And I should have had water with me given how warm it was.  I'll make sure next time.  My friend offered gatorade, but I stuck it out.

We ran from the zoo to the other side of Druid Hill Park.  As we passed the lake, we could see the sun rising over the lake.  This is always a beautiful sight.  Then we went past the Stieff Silver building.  We turned south on Sisson and ran past the city's recycling center.  Then, we passed the Mill Valley General Store at which I get bulk flours, dried fruits, and today (long after the run) nutmeg.  I pointed it out to my running partner.  Maybe she'll check it out sometime.  

We proceeded across 28th street past streets like Hampden, Huntington, and Remington on our way to Charles.  On the way to Charles, it is a pretty gritty section of town.   

Then, we took the long trot down Charles.  First, working our way through the numbered streets.  Some residential.  Many businesses and offices with few open at that early hour.  Then, across North avenue and approaching Penn Station.  As we passed the infamous Man-Woman Statue, my friend commented that her kids call it the Mama statue because that is just what one of them called it when he was two.  Continuing along Charles past Peabody (where I'd seen two concerts last weekend and where I have become a little part of the community that my son is integrally involved in), and to the area south of Mt Vernon with many restaurants like David and Dad's (good for breakfast).  

Finally, I was going to turn on Fayette but instead went down to Baltimore Street and we ran from Charles to President on Baltimore.  That took us past "The Block" in Baltimore which is not a place I typically run.  But it was harmless at 7:30 in the morning.

Along the way to this point (and then later as well), I saw at least a dozen Back on My Feet runners.  Another community that I am a part of.  

We went down President to Lombard and took Lombard (occasionally gritty) all the way over to Patterson Park Avenue.  There, we turned south.  As I ran along, I could see some sights at the port and the beautiful Ukrainian church on Eastern Avenue.  Things that give a real sense of what Baltimore has to offer.  And really making it clear how much of the city this 14 mile run took in.

Then, we turned north on Linwood and passed the ice rink in Patterson Park.  Many people don't even know there is an ice rink there.  The ice hockey community is another one I am a part of.

Then, we turned back West on Baltimore Street and ran over to Central then up to Fayette, and across to Fallsway.  I suppose you could say we began the climb when we hit the southeast corner of Patterson Park and headed back toward the start.  But at Fallsway the climb really began. While running along Baltimore Street, someone looked out of a car window and yelled my name.  That person, I did not recognize but it was another sign of just how much I am a part of the Baltimore community.

We went along Fallsway, across Mt Royal, and up St Paul.  On St. Paul we passed North Ave and the Lovely Lane church where I briefly took African drumming lessons years ago (another interesting community to have been a part of), and Terra Cafe at 25th and St Paul (where Christopher plays occasionally). Then, we proceeded up to 29th, across past the Wyman Park Dell, around the edge of the JHU campus, and back to where we started.

When we ended at the zoo there were many families getting ready to enter the zoo--another cool thing for families to do to understand how they are part of the bigger world and to enjoy together.

Later in the day I took my eight year old to the Mill Valley General Store.  We bought atrisan and semolina flour, two types of dried fruit, and some egg nog and chocolate milk.  That was a fun trip. I love spending time shopping with Daniel and he was extremely helpful getting the bulk goods.  I talked with the owner about the flours and mentioned that I'd recommended the store.  She appreciated the recommendation and had some insights about the flour.  

Then, I started the pizza that my family would eventually enjoy for dinner.  Went to the other grocery store but by myself.  Took a slight nap.  Made and served dinner.  

Then, I took my 14 year old to pick up one of his fellow boychoir members and the boy's older sister.  We had a good conversation on the way to boychoir.  This is another community I have become part of.

Then, I came home to pick up the rest of my family to proceed to see the Lessons and Carols concert. Nine biblical lessons, carols after each.  Plus one at the start and finish for good measure.  I was particularly moved by Marco Merrick's deliberate reading of the story of the wise men.  Being a part of the MSB community and those who love to listen to the boys and those who spend time thinking about the meanings of their concerts is pretty cool.

So, I guess I could say that in so many ways--running, family, friendship, Back on My Feet, ice hockey, MSB, shoppers at Mill Valley, etc.--today was about recognizing community.  There is joy in community.  And the opportunities to be part of a community are all around me.  Moving ahead, I may need to prioritize participation in some communities over others.  But the joy is there to engage in if I want to make the time.  

Tomorrow, I engage another community--church.  

It is all good.

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