I felt so wonderful after my 18 mile trail run with Bob, Debi, Maria and Brett--it was by far the easiest trail run I've ever done on such a beautiful day and amongst such special friends. I really didn't want it to end. I think I could have done the whole 50K that morning, I felt so good. I hoped the feeling would last through the weekend, but the rest of my weekend turned out to be path strewn with emotional time bombs, barbed arrows, and gnarly trail roots strong enough to trip the swarthiest ultra marathoners.
I wish running was enough to get me through everything, but sometimes it's not. My soon to be ex-husband is not the placid saint he has pretended to be the last months of our separation; he is human after all and hurting. So, while I tried to spend some time with my children at the house, do my laundry as I always do, and have an ice cold beer on the patio, our conversation turned down that dangerous, "what happened" path. It started off amicable enough, but as he poured himself another beer, I saw his true feelings ooze out, the ones long supressed for the sake of the kids, and the ugliness began between the kids flitting in and out of the house like butterflies in summer. While the butterflies were in sight, we put on our game faces, but as they drifted back out to the meadow, our faces changed.
I tried my best to keep my cool, but in the end, I stormed out of the house, devastated at the turn of events. The next morning, I called him and told him we needed to talk some more, that I would come over again after church and hopefully we could air our feelings and get on with our lives. Sitting by myself in the upper right hand balcony of The Chapel, where I've discerned the roof least likely to cave in, my mind mind wanders fiercely during prayer--have never understood prayer or understood how to do it. I get on my daughter something fierce when she comes to church with me for squirm worming through church, grabbing my wrist every 30 seconds, to check the time, but I'm just as bad; I've merely garnered the maturity to keep my body still while my eyes shift, my mind wanders, and I steal periodic glances at the ceiling for developing cracks, since I still consider myself a recovering Baptist and like Tori Amos, "Abnormally Attracted to Sin."
Funny, but I feel much the same way about coming to The Chapel as I do about running in the afternoon. I don't always want to do it, but I've never regretted it once I go. I never feel beat up like I did in the Baptist church of my youth, but fortified, just a poor helpless pathetic sinner trying to make my way through life. When I first met Bob, I knew he had a very strong, yet quiet kind of faith in God, but I couldn't figure out why he'd want to hang around someone like me--like Tori Amos, abnormally attracted to sin, weak, and imperfect as they come. He gave me the first bit of insight that God might be OK with the spicy S. Red, just as I am. It was monumental for me, this knowledge that I'm OK and worthy to step foot in a church again...even though I still worry about that ceiling.
I still suck at prayer too, but after church, before going over to the house again to talk to the soon to be ex husband, I felt the cold fear of my former "stinkin thinking"--the negative mind chatter with a lump in my throat that tells me I'm hopeless, weak, and unworthy of anything positive in my life. I felt overwhelmed and turned to prayer by laying down on the couch and making my mind still. I can't formulate words in my head as I do words on paper or on the typewriter...it's all white noise in my head. So, I did my best to quiet my mind and ask God for strength to quiet the negative chatter. Funny thing, I think I must have fallen asleep for a minute or two, but when I woke up, the lump in throat was gone and I felt OK.
I got up and went over to the house and we talked some more. He was venting yesterday, is all. We got some things out in the open that should have been discussed a long time ago. I'll keep moving forward as I do in a tough race.
Since I'm not very good at mental prayer, I've copied this Runner's Prayer from a runner blogger I've recently started to read. You can find him in my blog roll, "Running is Mental". I'm sure he won't mind:
Accept our gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this contest and in the larger race of life. We accept with thankfulness the wholeness and well being which running contributes to our living. As running brings pleasure to our lives so may our efforts on this day bring pleasure to you, our Creator.
We give thanks for physical bodies wonderfully made. Help us to exercise good stewardship of the health, energy, and clarity of mind provided for our use. Bless our efforts in training to develop these gifts to their full potential.
Give us the strength to endure and the passion to persevere. Protect us from injury and illness. May we possess courage and character in adequate supply to meet the challenge before us.
Grant each of us the integrity to do our best in the quest to finish well. We can do no more and desire no less.
Thank you for the sense of community created by our common commitment to run. As we seek to realize personal goals help us to also celebrate the accomplishments of others. Grant that we may find joy not only in competition but also in the privilege of running together.
Remind us on this day and through all of life that we never run alone.