Monday, March 10, 2014

Celebration of Life & Being Thankful for What I Have

On Sunday morning, I ran an "easy" 10 miles around the neighborhood.  It was a variation on a theme running up Highwood to Lenten to Nicholl to York to Lake to Bellona to York to 39th to University to 40th to Roland to Northern to Charles to Gittings to Lake to Maylane to Parkview to Cedarcroft to Northwood to Woodson and home.  It took me 1:24:15--nice and easy pace.  

That put my total up to 381.5 miles.  This puts me at approximately the corner of Lincoln Ave & Cedar Hill Rd in Lancaster, OH.  I would have been able to see St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic Church continuing on the theme of Mary and the role that she plays in the church, in my spirituality, and in the pilgrimage.  In terms of my own spirituality, there are any number of ways that she is there--mostly in terms of saying yes to God as an example.

I want to talk briefly about two celebrations of life that I experienced on Saturday after I ran.  One was in the morning.  It was part of the reason that I ran so early on Saturday morning.  We went to the celebration of life for Todd Franklin.  He was so much a part of life at the Maryland State Boychoir that they use the boychoir's center for the arts (also a church) for the celebration of life.  I had described it to my running partner on Saturday morning as a funeral.  That is absolutely not what it was.  Rather, it truly was a celebration of the life of a wonderful man who was father, husband, brother, son, neighbor, coworker, entrepreneur, and joyful.  The entire experience was joyful.  The pastor who led the celebration used the phrase "I am grieving, but I'm not pitiful."  In other words, I can grieve.  But I don't need pity.  And if we truly all believe the part about going to heaven, then we should point to happiness for the person who has passed even though we ourselves might grieve for the loss of a friend or family member.  

Then in the evening we went to a concert held in honor of the man who had been the music director at our church.  That was also a beautiful celebration of the man's life.  The piece performed was Rossini's Little Solemn Mass.

In both cases, great things were said about the men who passed.  The two events made me think of the last funeral I'd been to--the one I'd played at back in the fall.  And the viewing I was at recently.  Four relatively recent celebrations of life.

What is interesting is that a friend posted on social media a piece about six habits of grateful people.  One of them was thinking about death--at least occasionally.  This is an interesting perspective.  But it makes a lot of sense. When I attended and played at the funeral mass at St. Pius X a couple months ago I spent a long time reflecting on Greg's life, my life, and what my own celebration of life might hold some day.  Looking at that makes me think about all that I have.  All that I am blessed with.  All that I would leave behind if something would happen.  All who would miss me if I were gone.  All that I have experienced so far.  And I realize just how lucky I am.  And I realize how important it is to be thankful for what I have.   

So, as I think about how lucky I am to call a sub-8:30 pace an easy run, and I think about how lucky I am to be healthy and happy, and I think about how lucky I am to have been able to celebrate the incredible lives of several friends, it just makes me want to celebrate life ever more.  

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