I started running five years ago, as a form of worship. As much as I tried to meditate and pray, I couldn't focus for longer than a few seconds without fidgeting. I found I had to keep my body moving in order to give my mind the freedom to think uninterrupted.
It was painful to run in the beginning - it seemed like every muscle and bone ached with every step. But the more it hurt, the more I called out - "Let me take one more step, one more step. Help me through this pain." I encountered the Holy Spirit on my first 5k run. I began to give thanks, over and over, with each step. I was thankful I could take each step, thankful for my legs - these calves that were always too big, these quads that were too flabby, my bum that jiggled too much - because they were moving me. For the first time, I gave thanks for my tiny boobs for being one less thing to cause me pain during my run.
Despite the physical anguish, the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I wanted to run farther, so I could spend more time with Him.
My journey through running is a lot like the journey of personal development that comes along with the emotional and sometimes physical pain we experience during Lent. As we're now in Holy Week, there are only a few more days before I can once again go to night club, dance, get drunk if I want to, eat good food, and the priest can tell jokes in church.
Then again, Lent has a funny way of making you realize your real priorities. A few years ago, I gave up meat. After 50 days of vegetarianism, I thought I'd be craving steak or chicken. Nope, come Easter, all I wanted was cold cuts and processed meat. Yep, as it turns out I can do without filet mignon or prime rib, but pepperoni pizza is apparently a deal breaker.
Likewise, the year I gave up alcohol for Lent, I made plans to go out to the bar as soon as the Easter vigil was over. But when the day finally came, and I could have my choice of cocktail, all I really wanted was to taste the communion wine again.
This year, I gave up "excess." I took the Lean philosophy to my life - anything that was unnecessary as food, drink, shopping or entertainment, I axed. What do I crave now? Most of all, I just long for when we can sing Hallelujah again at the beginning of the Gospel reading. And a mochaccino-flavoured cigarette. I don't even smoke. I know, weird.
I have suffered in my contemplation of His death and I'm ready now to rejoice in His resurrection. Anywhere that He is, I want to be. Most of all I want the sacraments, which is funny because those were the things I never had to give up at all. But I'm even stoked to celebrate Confession. I want the sacraments more than I want any of that extra crap that I have spent 50 days trying to get rid of.
Lent is not a challenge. It's not an objective or goal because it's not something you can overcome. It's not something that you can win. No one succeeds at their Lenten promises. Lent will always beat you. It will always reveal to you how small you are in comparison to everything that's important.
Suffering is a necessary evil. It's through suffering we discover what we're made of. It's through suffering we're made to surrender. I am ready to surrender to Him. I'm ready to quit fighting Him on everything. I am ready to feel joy now.
Surrendering equals rejoicing. Every morning I wake up, I'm going to pray to Him for faith...a droplet of faith, an atom of faith, a neutron of faith. More than anything I want to believe in Him. He made me this way - He made me hyper-emotional, contrary, combative and contemplative, so He must have something He wants me to accomplish with those traits. If He made me so I fall in love a million times, He must have a plan for my heartbreak.
Whatever He wants me to do - be a journalist, be a mother, run a marathon, I will do. If it's some other ambiguous life experience I don't understand, at the least I will serve to bare testimony...right after I smoke and sing Hallelujah at the top of my lungs, that is.
4 years ago