Sunday, January 26, 2014

Stories of Numbers--Meaningful Miles, Scones, Sunday School, and a Homily and a Blessing

When I was in sixth grade I liked to begin every creative writing assignment with a date, sometimes a time, and a place.  I always used that to set the scene for my stories.  My love of math translated into a love of numbers that I liked to use in communicating my ideas.  

So, today, I will use many numbers to tell my story.

Today is 1/26/14.

I went for my 19th run of the year in the first 26 days.

I ran just 2.2 miles.  But they were meaningful miles.

That makes my total for the year 150.2 miles. 

That is an average of 7.9 miles per run.  Counting days off an average of 5.8 miles per day.  That is more than enough that if I continue I will reach my question for 2000 miles for the year.

Today there was a lot of dot connecting.  

I wrote five things on the chalk board for Sunday School today.  I wrote "Wind, Dove, Fire/Fruit Salad/Red Egg/Harvest Festival/Advocate, Teacher, Guide."  Some of the kids in class thought that was just a random assortment of words.  The first, if I had reworded it, would not be a take off on a 70's band, i.e., "Dove, Wind, and Fire."  However, what I wrote are the three ways that the Holy Spirit is often shown in artwork.  Fruit salad--a reference to the need to mix up the twelve fruits of teh Holy Spirit.  Red egg--Saint Mary Magdalene.  (I actually learned that one from the teacher's text today.)  Talking about Mary Magdalene was tied in with the Resurrection the Ascension 40 days later and the Pentecost.  Harvest Festival ties back to Pentecost as well. And finally, Advocate, Teacher, and Guide are three roles for the Holy Spirit.

I encountered the number 12 a second time today.  I made 12 scones.  The scones were pretty good.  Very simple recipe.  Added apricots, dates, and raisins.  Shared one.  And that brings me back to connecting some other dots and why the miles were meaningful miles.

Getting to 150.2 miles puts me at the point after Stauffer Rd on US 30 where Old Lincoln Highway turns off to the left in Stoystown, PA.  

Why is Stoystown, PA, of interest.  Just about 2 miles south of my stopping point for the day is the flight 93 National Memorial.  Coming upon this in the course of my virtual pilgrimage, of course, takes me back to 9/11/01.

The term pragmatic visionary spirituality means a lot in this context.  The visionary spirituality aspect of this was using a software program to determine a 2000 mile route between Catholic churches.  The pragmatic aspect was that looking ahead yesterday, I could tell that I did not need a whole lot of miles the rest of the fourth week of January.  What I did need was just some loosening of the legs and feeling more alive from a run.  And today's short jaunt to feel more alive (while being very careful about the slippery roads) was very cold.  But it brought me to a point at which I would stop if I were really working my way across the country.  Stop, take a break.  See the sight that is there slightly off my planned trail.  And time to think about what that day meant.  I wasn't writing then.  I obviously can't write as much now as I would have if I were writing then, but there is something to ponder.  

I was 31 years old.  It was a beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning.  I had dropped off my older son at school, driven to work, and walked to visit an anesthesiologist who was studying new ways to avoid post-surgical pain.  When I arrived at the anesthesiologist's office, the TV was on and the first crash had already occurred.  Over the next hour and a half there was great uncertainty and great chaos.  Flight 93 came down in Pennsylvania.  Brought down there rather than being allowed to continue to Washington as the passengers by then had determined what the intent was.  

I remember how shaken everyone was.  I did not go home exceedingly early that day.  My son was dismissed early but the kids were carefully told nothing at school.  At that time, the children's garden at the Waldorf School was in a separate building.  Thus, it was even easier to keep the news from the youngest children at the School as the School's leadership decided was correct.

At that time, I was not writing for myself.  But the school provided several opportunities for parents to talk.  Some had been affected a lot more directly than I had.  But at the time, I was teaching myself a little acoustic guitar.  My oldest had been taking lessons for a year or so at that time.  And I played a lot of extra music at that time.  That was how I worked out my anxiety.  I played a lot of the "peace and love" songs from the 60's.  

Very different from the 27 essays after the Boston Marathon this year.  

It took months for me to work things out then.

During those months, I recall feeling like people in the United States were remembering that the United States stands for something.  That there are ideals that join us all together.  That there was a sense of unity of purpose that we have not seen since then.  People care about each other.  People did things for each other.  And people did things for each other just because.  No strings attached.  Realizing how short life could be and how quickly and randomly it could be taken away.

That sense of doing nice things just because is one of the reasons I shared a scone.  The other was that when making 12 scones with a family of 5 and not wanting to fight over "who gets the extra" it was helpful to share away a scone.  

Unity that I thought a lot about with where my run ended up today and with the thinking back to 9/11/01 was also a subject at church today.  Fr. Sam mentioned that yesterday was the end of the week of prayers for Christian unity.   

The last part of connecting the dots for today was the blessing for those who are volunteers at St Pius X today.  The parish had a celebration for volunteers.  The pastoral life director offered a blessing.  The blessing included recognizing the God of worthy adventures.  I don't think I have ever heard this term before.  I liked the idea of worthy adventures.  In fact, the Holy Spirit lesson from this morning is a great way to tie in.  God does not necessarily discourage adventures.  But choosing which adventures is key.  We can call them "worthy" adventures.  The Holy Spirit can guide us to worthy adventures.  Teaching third graders in Sunday school can certainly be an adventure.  Cooking and baking can be worthy adventures.  

So, from running, to teaching about the Holy Spirit, to remembering 9/11/01, to mass.  Lots of dots to connect.  On pace for the miles I need.  Tomorrow I continue to work my way across Pennsylvania in my virtual pilgrimage.   

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