Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 22, 2014- There is a Beauty Not of This World

            I was not looking forward to my fifteen miles today.  There’s a shocker.  It wasn’t helping that we could hear and feel great gusts of wind slamming into things outside.  We had plans to go visit my brand new nephew at the hospital later so I was forced to rush through my stages of “putting off the inevitable”- shock, denial, anger, acceptance.  These were wrapped up in my standard pre-run rituals: go to the bathroom, hang upside-down on my inversion table, go to the bathroom, eat some carbs and protein, drink Gatorade, go to the bathroom, apply “Glide” to all the places that chafe, stretch my calves and ankles, get all my stuff together, and then finally go to the bathroom one more time. 
            I commented to the guy who was just finishing his run as I was setting off that I wished I was in his position.  He laughed.  I didn’t.  And I took off slowly, into the wind, and my mind started its work:  “I have to run for about two and a half hours!”  I don’t want to!”  My legs were really heavy for most of the run and my brain constantly calculated at each mile mark the percentage I’ve done and that much more that I have to go.  At mile seven the lead weights which were my legs voted to call it quits, and I thought, “I’m not even halfway done yet!!”
            Because the course loops around the lake the wind, which was gusting to thirty miles an hour, hits head on from mile two until mile four and a half.  So, in coming around again, miles eleven through thirteen were brutal.  It’s especially “challenging” when my lead-weight legs are trying to carry me uphill and the wind literally has me almost running in place.  I wiped my watery eyes, put my head down a little more and just put one foot in front of the other- even if I have little to show for it, that slow moving cross can sometimes be the most productive.   
            I smiled inwardly, the wind slamming me in the face, and sarcastically thought, “I do believe that this delightful breeze is going to slightly damage my beautiful, wrinkle-free complexion.”  Being an outdoor girl is definitely not benefitting my youthful countenance.  Good thing I have a husband who loves me no matter the weathered face.  Come to think of it, this kind of a distance run cannot be too good on my heart either. 
            I know exercise is a must, but I just know these really long runs are too tough on my body.  I can feel that it is.  Then I think of my mother and the life she lived.  I sat with her as the nurse put in the catheter a few days before she died, and I thought on the six children she gave birth to, and raised.  I helped the nurse wash her, and I looked at that body, so completely wrung out of any physical beauty- she had permanent tattoos marking the spots where they would shoot the radiation, the ugly port on her chest where they hooked her body up to the various chemo treatments for ten long years, and scars from the many operations.  She was skinny, and wrinkled, and worn.  She demanded much from those hands, those feet, that back, that heart, and it did its job for seventy-four years.  Seeing finally that face in her last agonies on this earth, how the labored breathing and stressful fight actually distorted the shape of her head, a person of the world- so possessed by desires for physical beauty- would think that this was something, someone ugly, almost repulsive.  But there is a beauty not of this world in a faithful daughter who never said no to the crosses given.  So that when she died, in the eyes of what is Eternal, never was there anyone so beautiful…

            Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come!
      For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning
the vines has come, and the song of the dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in
bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!
Songs 2:10-13

I could see my finish line, and when I finally came to the end of that tortuous fifteen miles I stopped and immediately my back seized up.  I bent over and put my hands on my knees and this joy and gratitude hit me like the pain in my legs.  I did it.  I did it.  And I prayed my heartfelt prayer recalling instantly my four reasons for running, “Thank you my God.  Thank you for letting me do this today.  And with a full heart I offer this cross to you, in thanksgiving, to make amends, to adore You, and for those you have given me to love.”
I phoned Jim on the way home and asked if he could “prepare my bath”, an ice bath that is.  He helped me up the stairs and into that excruciating, bone-chilling water that certainly takes your breath away but really, really helps in recovering the laundry list of stuff that was killing me on my body!
Then we switched gears and headed out to the hospital to see my newly arrived nephew Jack Edward Jones.  Each time I hold one of my mother’s grandchildren I am so overwhelmingly happy that I can stand in for her, and give that physical love to her precious one that she loves from heaven.
My Gracie, holding her new cousin.

Afterwards we met up with our son Simon who lives close by that area and took him out to eat at a favorite spot for us, “Red Coat Tavern” and got the best burger and onion rings ever.  Boy were they worth the wait.  (I will watch the calorie intake tomorrow.)  (I promise.) 
For today, it was a day of celebrations- in bountiful gifts given and the gratitude that can only come from God in our meager attempts to follow Him, the sheer joy of living fully this life we are given.    

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