Friday, April 18, 2014


Yesterday, I talked about images.  Today, I began my day with a 6 mile run.  A very easy 6 mile run.  A run that on my virtual pilgrimage would put me on Indiana Route 45 headed out of Bloomington.  The run started a lot later than usual (almost 6:30 on a weekday) as one child was away, the other two did not have to go to school, and I had gotten to sleep at around 2 last night after getting home very late.  I was operating on a little more sleep than just what I got at home as I'd slept quite a bit on the plane, but it was a fitful sleep.  Total for the year 625.4 miles.  

So, today, I worked about 5 hours at the office.  I'll still be playing catch up (and email elimination) over the weekend.  I went to two different services at church today.  My 14 year old was an altar server at the 3 PM service--Eucharist was shared but it was not a mass as it had already been blessed.  The passion was read.  One detail I don't recall ever catching before from the Gospel of St. John was that Nicodemus (whom Joseph of Arimathea teamed up with to bury Jesus) brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes.  I had never thought about the sheer quantity before.  Maybe not usually going to the service in the afternoon of Good Friday, I don't hear the whole passion according to John very often.

Then this evening, I went to a service at St. Pius X called Tenebrae.  It is an interesting service.  Not a priest to be found.  Run by the laity.  At our church there are seven candles in front  of a cross.  An introduction is read.  Then there are seven stories.  For the first six, we hear a biblical quote that leads into the story and we hear the story.  Then music is played.  Then a candle is extinguished.  For the seventh, the story is read.  The candle is taken slowly to the back of the church.  A loud drum is played to recall the passing of Jesus.  Then music is played and the evening ends.  

I had a chance to speak with three former parishioners whom I have known for more than a decade.  Two of the three were my oldest son's first Sunday school teachers.  The third is the daugher of one.  They have been part of our church family for 14 years--at least.  We stay in touch through social media.  We rarely get to catch up in person.  

I also had a chance to talk to the director of religious education at our parish this evening.  She has had quite a week getting ready for Easter.  Stuff comes up every year.  This year is no different.  She noted how happy she will be after the last mass on Easter Sunday.

Two of the stories caught my attention: one about personal demons and the other about the importance of the little things we do for others.  Both fit with the one other image that I didn't comment on yesterday--vulnerability.

While St. Sebastian survived the archers, he still was eventually martyred and was shot by the archers in the first place.  And in most artwork (including my tattoo) he is shown with arrows in him.  In my tattoo he is being rescued.  Irene is the strong one.  He is vulnerable.  That is an important self-image for me.

I tell happy stories on Facebook every day. But this is only the protect myself from unhappy things.  Some may say to hide from unhappy things.  

I try to maintain a positive outlook on life.  But maybe it is just because I am vulnerable to becoming downcast if I even begin to allow it to creep in.  Certainly my teenage writing reflected the more vulnerable raw emotional side of me.

Even in the various images that I saw of myself and others saw of me this week there is vulnerability in each of them.  The vulnerability of a friend facing an injury keeping her from running.  The vulnerability I have displayed on numerous occasions and the friend checking up on me when I didn't send an email about a Tuesday morning track run.  The vulnerability of sharing oneself in a mentoring relationship.  And the vulnerability of sharing with others my quest for meaning in my running.  

Then there is the vulnerability to dwelling on and never losing sight of what happened at the Boston marathon last year.  In some ways, I probably should never forget.  The vulnerability is misplacing the importance of it in my life.  That came out this week as well.  The fears and stresses of that experience are like on of my personal demons.

There are other demons--overcommitment in the workplace.  Overcommitment at home.  Things that never seem to get done.  And how each of these is not only a problem in and of itself but also plagues me as I try to move ahead.

Finally, the story of little things.  (I've gone on quite some time).  For having run as many miles as I have since the start of 2006 (probably over 5,000 in those eight years as I have run over 3,400 just since June of 2012), the number of "big moments" is quite small.  When I qualified for Boston and when I ran Boston.  When I hit sub-7 on average in a non-race half-marathon and in a separate non-race 10 miler.  And when I won a small 5K and when I ran 19:10 (putting me close to 19-even).  Thus, I can count th enumber of really big moments on my two hands.  But there are lots of small moments shared with many other runners.  Some who are faster than I am.  Some who are slower than I am.  Some with whom I am very well matched.  Sometimes it is just about being out there together.  Sometimes it is just the friendly hello.  Sometimes it is the cheering.  Sometimes it is the advice.  Sometimes it has little to do with running.  Those are the moments that count.  Those are the moments that can happen every day and make a big difference for people.

And sometimes I forget that at home the little things in the every day can be just as important.  Yes, the big things are great.  The wedding day.  The days children are born.  The house buying.  College acceptances.  Soon--graduation.  

But it is also the little things.  The going to the grocery store.  The making breakfast.  The cleaning up after myself.  The doing things for Sherry just because.

The last vulnerability I will mention tonight--the personal demon that focuses only on the big and forgets that the little things are important.  And deserve attention.  And are critical to a happy life.

Lessons from running.  Lessons from church.  Lessons for life.  

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