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You know what I miss?
I used to find an open hour with nothing to do, put on a light jacket and my running shorts and shoes, and just take off in whatever direction I wanted. I felt the wind in my face, sometimes the rain down my neck. I could choose which way to turn, which road to take, which fork in the woody path to run down.
My mind would wander, sometimes playing out fantasies that would make me smile, sometimes working out problems that vexed me, sometimes singing the lyrics to the same song over and over again, sometimes scheming about my next big plan or adventure.
I would arrive back home tired, sweaty, exhausted, and grateful for a time of respite away from the ringing phones or the dozens of responsibilities needing my time and attention.
I still remember the doctor coming in after my third knee surgery and saying, “Ok, that went well. The next one will be a total knee replacement and when we do it is up to you.” I knew what he meant: you can keep running, and we will be doing this in two years, or you can stop and we may not have to do it at all.
So I stopped.
But every once in a while, I can’t not do it. I remember a run one morning in Jerusalem with a friend from our hotel in the West Bank to and around Old City Jerusalem and back. I remember one night last year on a walk where I just broke into a jog, then a brisk run, then an all out sprint. I held that speed for as long as I could until my lungs ached and I slowed and then stopped. After both of those, my knees reminded me why I shouldn’t do this anymore.
That’s what I miss.
Age has caught up to me and I can’t, I shouldn’t, and I don’t do it anymore.
There is a line in the movie “Chariot’s of Fire” that I have never forgotten. One of the featured Olympians helps run a mission center in China with his family. As he trains for the Olympics, his sister tells him he is too distracted to do God’s work and he should re-arrange his priorities. He turns to her and says: “I believe God made me for a purpose: for China. But God also made me fast and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
I understand that.
And I miss it.
What good gift has God given you that, when you engage it, you feel God’s pleasure?
Do it with abandon is what I say. Let God revel in your joy. Let the world delight in your passion. And if in time age or life or other journeys turn your delight in another direction. So be it. Now I ride my bike the way I used to run. I shifted – but the joy remains.
Bad knees and all, we could all use a little more of God’s pleasure on this, our journey Into the Mystic.
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