Today, I went on my first run in 3 and a half months.
It was difficult and wonderful.
You see, I used actually be one of those people—those runners who you see trotting around the park in the wee hours of the morning. I ran my first ever 5k one August about 3 years ago, after I decided one day I would just start running. I made a plan back when I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds without cramping and wanting to die. I stuck with it and became addicted to it. I loved ease of just lacing up your shoes and going under your own power wherever you want to go. I loved being able to run along the water just as the sun rises. I loved curating my own playlists to fuel those longer jaunts into the city. I was hooked.
Before I knew it, I had run multiple 5ks, two 10-milers, and two half-marathons. (and overslept and missed one of them…another story for another day). I even got the (somewhat snooty) 13.1 magnet for my car.
But life happens. I got some injuries. Our family routine changed with the entrance of a foster child (this is an understatement…our world was rocked!). School became more consuming. And over Easter weekend this year, I somehow hurt my back so badly that I couldn’t stand much less stand up straight. I was in bed for days. Went to a chiropractor for the first time in my life. And have been on a routine of therapy, adjustments, and exercises since then. It’s been a VERY frustrating thing to feel more physically limited than I can ever remember being.
But, my body was trying to tell me something for awhile. I could feel the tension increasing, I knew I wasn’t eating well or sleeping enough. My body was trying to simply say: you need to stop. Cease. Rest. Slow down. Care for me! Eat something green.
But I didn’t listen. More to the point, I didn’t stop to pay attention. There was too much noise and too much to be done for me to even hear. I couldn’t stop, except for those evenings where my wife and I would simply collapse on the couch after the bedtime routine and visit our friends in streaming entertainment-land.
But this last Friday, against many (internal) convincing arguments, I chose to stop. I ceased. I rested. I sat outside and drank coffee. I read a book that would fill my soul, not simply engage my mind. For the first time in awhile, I aligned my inner life with what my body had been telling me for the last 3 months: you need to stop, to rest, and to tend to our needs!
I took time, before time could be taken from me (again).
Walter Brueggemann, in his book “Sabbath as Resistance” says this:
“We used to sing the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” But perhaps we should be singing, “Take time to be human.” Or finally, “Take time.” Sabbath is taking time … time to be holy … time to be human.”
Friday was about me stopping so I can start again, taking time to be human and come face to face with my own frailties, my limits, my failings, my feelings—simply to come face to face with who I really am. It is why I felt enough energy to get up this morning and attempt a run at all, as I was way more in tune with my body and mind. And more so, today is about starting from stopping, because I have started stopping again. 🙂
This is foundational to the idea of sabbath rest (and something I have forgotten and rarely applied well): we do not work for rest, we work from rest. I feel like I felt this for the first time in a long time this morning. Rest had done its work while I had not worked at all.
So, here’s to stopping and to starting again…and to not stop stopping.