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Pavement Pounding Penance & Prayer

Posted Feb 14 2010 6:09pm
I had the house to myself, sort of. My husband and daughter went to Home Depot, and the baby was napping. I grabbed my husband's Valentine gift of a pint of Haagen Daz Coffee Ice cream and settled into the couch to catch up on my current favorite show.

I felt so peaceful and relaxed until the main character began eating a box of chocolates and talking about how she'd have to run five miles later to make up for it. I looked into my pint and then at the nutrition label. Oops! Just a half-cup serving had 260 calories, and it was nearly all gone! That's when the show lost its luster, because I couldn't focus on the story plot and do math at the same time.

I had just consumed over a thousand calories in one sitting! How many miles would I have to run? How long would it take me? Could I get it done and get a shower in the time between my husband getting back from the store and dinnertime?

I wish I didn't love ice cream so much, but I do. So I met my sweet husband at the door in my running gear and ran out on him. This being a typical Oregon Winter, I didn't make it a quarter-mile before I was running in a deluge that would have made Noah build another ark. Instead of putting a damper on my run, though, the downpour became something deeply spiritual.

I turned my hands upward, feeling the impact of each raindrop on my palms as my arms swung in rhythm with my breath. My penance became prayer as I contemplated nature's creator. I watched the prisms of water gathering on my hat brim, and imagined myself surrounded by messages of constancy from the clouds. My pounding feet became poetry, winding words around my wish to describe these bits of peace falling from the clouds to the earth, from a place closer to heaven than the earth itself.

Okay, so I was having what they call a "runners high," and I was all too quickly panting back up my own street toward the happy chaos of my own home. Back into my warm home to shed my wet clothes, eat the cookies my husband had baked, and hug the warm bodies of my children.
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