Running and Falling


I ran the greenbelt trails with a Lab-Great Dane mix for 12 years. With Joan at my side, I would run and think and pray. There were times when Joan and I felt that God was near, very near.  That's why we kept going back day after day. To see if God would show up.

I learned many things running and thinking and praying. I also learned many things about running and thinking and praying...

I learned that a dog who runs faithfully at your side for years without a tug or a jerk will, on a given day, with regards to a particular squirrel, lurch across your path, tangle your feet in the leash and cause you to fall. HARD. (You will never know what it was about that squirrel. You will, however, run home with bleeding knees.)

I learned that even when the sidewalklooks smooth and flat, the surfaceis elevated here and there -- enough to catch the toe of your left foot, causing you to fall. HARD.

I learned that if you’re praying fervently and lift your eyes to the Heavens and leave them there too long, you might come right-foot-down on a sweetgum ball, wrench your ankle badly and know...HARD.

The first time I fell while running, I decided I was not interested in doing that again, so I asked God’s Holy Angels to protect my feet so that I would never fall again.

I fell again.

And I was just silly enough to think that maybe it was because I forgot to ask the angels to protect my feet that day. So I told the angels, flat out, I’m likely to forget again, so, please, protect my feet every day I run.  Infinity.  (I learned the infinity invocation from the children.)

I fell again.

The problem with child-like faith is that you take child-like offense when things don’t work out as you expected. I mean, how can you ask for divine protection from falling SO THAT YOU CAN PRAY and then still fall?

Wow, I muttered reproachfully. Just wow. The Lord of the Universe couldn’t sweep that sweetgum ball an inch to the left? Like, really?

I’ll admit it. My feelings were hurt. But as I thought it over, I realized that while I did NOT like falling, what I reallywanted was just to be able to keep running. I didn’t want to get hurt so badly that I couldn't run the next day. Because running makes me feel better and sometimes -- some wonderful times -- God shows up for the run. And I didn't want to miss that.

So I took another shot at it. Look, I said bluntly, Apparently I’m gonna fall. What I’m asking is that none of the falls cause injuries so serious that I can’t get up and run again.  Please. You know I do this to be close to You. Uhmm...Infinity.

Is this not life, my friends?

We don't want to fall. But...sometimes we fall.

Maybe you're moving through life JUST FINE and an illness hits you (or a loved one)...HARD. Maybe you were "in a good place" with your depression or anxiety and then you woke up one day and WHAM there it was, right in your face...HARD. Maybe one day you realize that nothing turned out like you imagined, that YOU are nothing like you imagined, and that hits you...HARD.

No. Matter.

Get up, little loves, though your knees are bleeding and your ankles are sore.  YOU GOT THIS.

We run, we fall, we get back up and run again. It's how we do.