Before I ran my first marathon, Detroit in 2011, my pal Greg Gibbs gave me a bit of advice. He told me to run with my head up. In other words he told me to put my focus on all the people around me, to live in each and every moment, not inward or on the ground. That was good advice, and I think of him as I listen to the song: “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer I have included in my arsenal of music just for that reminder.
I thought about that this morning at mass when in an instant I felt so strongly the presence of God and how unworthy I am to be in it. I then immediately start to mentally dig myself down, into the ground, below Him, below the faithful pilgrims around me. You see I am very good at the self-righteous bit, my holier-than-thou greatness and it has really been getting on my last nerve so I have started to dig.
It seems to help as I can get discouraged with the fact that I am forever falling into the same self-righteous trap, but that mental exercise of lowering myself curbs the discouragement, it forces me to recognize my place. I remember that I am dust, especially during lent. I am dust and unto dust I shall return. And if you think about dust, it is as useless as it gets, even worse than mud. At least mud has some moisture to it, might help something grow. But dust is worn out; it can contribute nothing of value on its own, unless you consider it blowing into your eyes or building up on your furniture as something of worth.
I stay down there so I can look up. I like to look up. People that look up are usually happy, observing the sun, and pretty clouds that look like circus animals, and birds. Looking up into the sky we search for God. We think of Him up there in the highest heavens, shinning down those beautiful rays of grace on this troubled, thirsty world.
You don’t miss stuff if you are seeing everything around you, taking it all in and not just focusing inward and downward. The rain can fall on your whole face and not down your crooked-over neck.
As race day grows closer I start to center more on the race itself. I do not have a strong conviction for finishing times like I did in the first two; I was very determined to break that four hour mark, plotting pace strategies and the like. I accomplished my goal and now I don’t have that kind of drive egging me on.
I have been saying throughout this journaling journey that I just want to live it. That is my goal, to keep my head up, and it is so much more poignant after the death of my friend Kirk.
I ran my six miles on the treadmill today. I was able to do them all- yea knee!! I averaged a nine minute pace for the first three, and an eight-forty pace for the last three. I was so grateful to do it. I feel like I have come so far since those first treadmill runs in the beginning of winter, so much stronger.
Of course, knowing me, all bets may be off when I hit that start line. I am kind of competitive so I might end up throwing all the well-laid plans out the window and going for broke like some crazed maniac runner. I guess we will see won’t we. All I know is I am grateful once again, grateful to get the chance that I so often take for granted. I am grateful to live, to be able to keep my head up and see the heavenly glory all around me.
|Eric the Elk on our garage, I love to look up and see which way he's headed.|