The sweat was rolling into my eyes, stinging. I’m breathing hard, and the dog is pulling my wrist-leash. She must see a squirrel, I think. Otherwise, she would be trotting and panting beside me as she always is at the end of the run. Everyone jumps and pulls hard when they are passionate about something.
I’m spent, but I keep pushing. I haven’t even gone that far, I think, feeling frustration rising. I’m wondering when will I feel strong running again. I’ve been struggling with the jogging. I don’t really want to go, but I do. When I go, I feel pooped at the beginning, middle, and end.”Ugh, how long until I’m strong? I’m waiting for it to get easier,” I say to my husband. “It’s just a stage. Just keep pushing,” he says, “Steady.” I run through the list in my head: drinking enough water, check; eating properly, check (mostly check); getting enough rest (hmm, maybe check); stretching, check; yoga, half-check since I haven’t been consistent. I remember back, way back to a junior high running coach. I have to squint to remember this, but I do remember.
Concentrate on your posture. Make sure your chest is out, back is straight, arms swinging, but controlled. Hold your hands and wrists lightly (like you’re holding an egg or a potato chip) but controlled as well. I stand up straight. I check my arms. I adjust my hands.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Yes, yes. I’ve got this one down.
Everything fluid but controlled. Okay, I’m a machine.
Then…my eyes open. I see the green trees canopy over me. I see birds flying. I see the squirrel taunting my dog. It’s all quite lovely. I look down at my legs, grateful for the pumping muscles, bone and blood. Thankful for my arms swinging (yet controlled :)). I’m glad I ran track in junior high school. I whisper thanks for finally being well from bronchitis. My lungs are clear. My asthma is dormant. I am alive. I am strong. I can run.
I see that my relationship with God is so much like this anemic jogging. It’s work at times to live deeply. It takes an effort to see, be willing, love. There is a sense of letting go, but not giving up. You still have to get up, double-lace your shoes and get going. I’m wondering now, what is my spiritual posture like? How am I standing in faith? Do I get going even when I feel weak? I know I’ve asked how long, O Lord, will it be this way? When will it get easy?
Maybe when our heads are hanging low in this life, it is because life has gotten hot. Perhaps we need to evaluate habits. Or, we might need wisdom from another Jesus-follower. We can keep pushing, steady with liturgy exercising and training our souls to center life around God. Then, our eyes will be clear to see what was all around us all along. Beauty, gift, blessing, truth. God is offering that grace-hand that gives rest, nourishment, life. Our eyes open to see that we are alive and we are forgiven.
I come into the gate. The dog runs to the water bowl and does her best to lay down in it. I wish I could too. I stretch. I pray. I wonder if I need more iron. I also wonder if I need more spiritual nourishment. I laugh at myself as I go inside for water.
This fluid relationship I have with God flows the life through my veins.