Sunday, March 30, 2014

All Are Welcome

Today’s run began at 6 AM. I had planned to start just a little earlier, around 5:50 so that I could get in my 10 miles without having to push quite so hard.  Do I like pushing?  Yes.  For years now when I run with my main running partner, we run 7:45-8:00/mile and call it a conversational pace.  It truly can be for us.  But just because we can carry on a conversation at that pace does not mean that I should necessarily be running that pace all the time.  As I found in Sydney, 9 minute miles beat up my body a lot less when I have the time for them.  Nevertheless, I run about 1:21 (just over 8 minutes per mile) for the 10 miles.  Today it was down the hill to Cedarcroft, Northwood, Northern, Alameda, Overbook, Loch Hill, Loch Raven, around the Mars shopping center and back to Northern, Loch Raven, Belvedere, Northern, Springlake, Homeland, Charles, Stevenson, Bellona, Gittings, York, Lake, and home (with a tiny extra bit to get the full 10).  It felt great.  It was drizzling the whole tie.  Raining hard occasionally.  Windy sometimes.  Tough but not impossible combination.  And it felt refreshing.  I may have been a little overdressed—tights, tight long-sleeved shirt, windbreaker, gloves, baseball cap.  May not have needed anything other than the tights and shirt most of the time.  But it worked.

Total?  515.3 miles.  That puts me on Harrison Ave.  West of Springdale Rd.  Moving toward Indiana.

When I think of spirituality and Cincinnati, I think of an experience between my junior and senior years at Penn State.  I spent a week in Appalachia with the Glenmary Home Missionaries.  A group of missionaries that works exclusively in the United States.  For the past two weeks in Sunday school at our parish, I have worked with the children to introduce them to the activities of Catholic Relief Services.  One-fourth of their resources stay in the United States.  For the Glenmary missionaries, it is all of the resources.  They do a lot of work in Appalachia.  I remember spending the week in Kentucky.

This was shortly after a somewhat serious relationship with someone who was not Catholic had ended.  And before my relationship with my wife (almost one year of dating, just over one year of being engaged, and now almost 22 years of marriage) began. 

I remember coming to the conclusion that for my lifelong relationship I was looking for someone who shared my faith.  My faith that is important to me.  My faith that has wavered sometimes.  But my faith nevertheless. 

It was a great week for both finding out about a part of the country I’d never been to (Kentucky) and for pondering why I was making certain choices.

Today’s opening song at church has a chorus that goes, “All are welcome/All are welcome/All are welcome in this place.”  The priest pointed this out and talking about how it tied in with the readings.  I never did quite follow his logic about the tie in, but as my virtual pilgrimage starts to pull away from Cincinnati, the hone base of the missionaries where I spent a week pondering among other things with whom I wanted to spend my life, it is worth thinking about the statement “all are welcome” and my life.

Sometimes, the people in my life now think I am being critical and not always welcoming of them.  But I try to be.

In fact, I try to be welcoming of everyone in my life.  I try not to exclude.  I try to at least be polite and make people feel welcome.  Life in general.  In my Sunday School classroom.  In my management role.  When I run.  Does it mean I have to be best friends with everyone?  Of course, not.  It just means I have to treat everyone fairly and not make the feel unwelcome by what I do. 

Am I perfect?  No.  Not even close. 

But welcoming people.   Paying things forward to people.  Communicating with people.  Learning from people.  It is all part of what makes life very interesting.  It is a challenge.  Jesus welcomed all—until they gave him reason not to welcome them.  Even then, he prayed for those who were not welcoming. 

It is a high standard to achieve.  It is definitely worth the try. 

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