The coming of summer has found me plodding along; wiping sweat from my eyes; slowly, slowly, slowly rebuilding my running base. The older I get, the longer that seems to take. Race season will be here soon enough, though; so, build I must.
For me, spring and early summer are my favorite times to run. The “dog days” aren’t quite here yet, but the warm, sticky air brings on a salty sweat that gives me a feeling of accomplishment I just don’t get at the end of a cold weather run. I like to sweat. It makes me feel like I’ve done something with my day, and makes even a bad run feel like it was a job well done. It couldn’t have been a bad run, see how the sweat is pouring off me?
The sweat of a summer run cleanses my soul. It feels like all those winter toxins I built up are pouring out of me and I’m leaving them behind in a puddle on the ground. That winter coat of depression that I wore like a crown of thorns melts away the sweatier I get. My feet move faster, my mind feels clearer, and life just feels good. Call me weird (you wouldn’t be the first); but give me a hot June morning over a cold February afternoon anytime. I’ll know just what to do with it.
I’m running trails this weekend. On my own. They aren’t long, and they all circle back to the campground my man and I are staying at (also deliciously on our own), so there’s no danger of getting lost. My man is working a race (motorcycle, not foot), and enjoying his Father’s Day happy of a new dirt bike – his first since “the Broken Leg Incident of 2012”.
I’m mostly laid back about the whole dirt bike racing thing. It makes him happy, just as running makes me happy, so I don’t complain. Or worry. That sounded believable, right? Anyway, I could wish for a less dangerous hobby that would make him smile, but that’s not who he is. And, probably any hobby has its pitfalls. I mean, even growing hothouse orchids could lead to… I don’t know, maybe being taken hostage by an orchid bandit? At least, with dirt biking, my man takes me to some very serene places to run trails. And, for that I’m thankful.
I needed serenity today. I don’t live a particularly chaotic life, but, sometimes I allow the voices on the Interwebs to drown out the voices in my head and fill me with despair for the human condition. This has been a week like that. Even with a minor miracle that my youngest daughter had at school this week, seeing God work in her life, and then hearing from a beloved nephew about how God is working in his, I allowed the screaming voices online to disturb my peace. To wonder why God abandoned us to such a place as this, and to wonder if He is ever going to come get us.
So, today and tomorrow, I’m running back to sanity and away from chaos. Not fast (am I ever fast?), but along woodsy trails that have been carved out by strong men like my man. Paths that run wide and deep in some places, and trickle off to a pig trail in others. Trails that are filled with ruts and roots and slippery orange clay. Trails that make me pay attention to where I place my foot, and look extra carefully at that root to ensure it’s not a snake.
On my first two mile loop, sweat soaks my hat and slides into my eyes and stings. My winter white legs are shiny and slick over the salty layer of grass and leaves; my shoes, so pristinely clean when I started, have gained two pounds of Mississippi mud. I stagger back to camp, fix myself a snack, and sit under the dripping trees to refuel. My skirt, shirt, and sports bra are damp and clammy and my hair, pulled into a sloppy ponytail and shoved through the back of my hat, makes a steady drip down the center of my back. I’m sure if you came upon me, you would have to stay downwind, but I don’t smell myself yet, so it can’t be that bad.
After a short rest, I head out again. A soft, warm rain begins to fall when I am about midway. No thunder or lightening, just the splash of sweet, clean raindrops that gather on the brim of my hat and drip off in a steady patter. The smell of clean, woodsy rain fills my senses and relaxes my mind. I trudge on, carefully manuevering around slippery clay, listening to the sound of unseen critters scurrying around me. My mind is calm. My heart is full. Sanity, or at least my version of it, has returned.
After another rest, I head out for my final loop. I often listen to podcasts when I run, but this loop, my last of the day, was just between me and God. We talked the entire time, and I won’t share with you all of what we said, but I will say this. I prayed for our nation in a way that I never have. Humbly, and with full knowledge that I’m part of the problem. I prayed that we, as Christians, and particularly I, will step away from our keyboards, get down off our soapboxes, get up off our comfy pews, and walk out into the world. I prayed that we would find people who don’t look like us, act like us, or believe like us and love on them like they’ve never been loved on before. I prayed that we would begin to be light in the world, because, my friends, we have dropped the ball on that. I prayed that God would close my mouth and open my heart, teach me to listen more that I speak, and remind me every day of the huge plank in my eye that prevents me from pulling out someone else’s splinter. I prayed that He would teach me how to love like He does, because that’s the only thing that’s going to save us.
Then, I got a shower.