Running, for me, is rest. I am moving. I am outside (hopefully in nature and sunshine). And I am alone. This is when my brain works out its kinks and my mind becomes clear enough to pray. Lately, I come home from a run and scramble for a pen and paper to jot down the words that have sprung to my mind (ahem, the raisins that were "scraped" free).
I am not a fast runner, but I run every other day for about three miles each time. I notice a considerable shift in my mood if I don't have this time to run or if I miss several days in a row.
Running is my therapy.
People always say that they don't have time to run, but exercise is the type of priority that pushes out something or someone else: time in the mornings lounging with family, commutes home from work (in Chicago, I used to run a portion of my train ride home from working in Chinatown) and sleep. But the benefits of running far outweigh those moments I may miss.
When I first started running, I would run for 5 minutes at a time. Then 6, then 7 until I had built up to a time that was manageable for my schedule. I usually tell people who are interested in getting into running to begin like this with 5 minutes, adding a minute each time--or choose a very close landmark, like a city block or run to that next stop sign or tree. My mom started running this way 7 years ago and got addicted. Last year she ran the Chicago Marathon at age 61.
No matter where I have lived in the world, I have at least attempted to run. In college, sometimes it was at midnight in a "safe," dark suburb. In Uganda, it was at dawn before all the gawkers came out of their houses to watch the white muzungu run in her skirt. In China, it was out of the city and through farms with houses made of mud and some homes carved into the sides of hills.
In Chicago, it was along gem-like Lake Michigan with sailboats dotting the horizon in summer and ice rising into mammoth sculptures along the fringe of the lake in winter. And now, in Colorado, I run in the foothills on a dusty path decorated with small mounds that I eventually realized belong to prairie dogs, who scuttle along from mound to mound, squeaking my arrival to one another.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I ran until I was 30 weeks along, eventually overcoming the embarrassment about what people might be thinking about me. But by my second pregnancy, I no longer had the ability to be self-conscious and ran until I was 36 weeks along, my gait shifting to the weight of my bulging belly. Each time after birth, I couldn't wait until the doctor gave me the go-ahead to get back outside and begin to move again.
I would much rather run in a new place than drive or bike, because my slower pace allows me to observe life on a larger scale.
Having two tiny children in tow all day has forced me to slow my pace in this chapter of my life. You cannot hurry through life when you are waiting on a toddler. They put on socks, find shoes, pick up toys, climb into car seats, leave the park, or eat their food in their own sweet time, with no concern for their parent's schedules.
The past three years I admit I have fought hard against this slowness.
But perhaps God wants to enlarge my view of Him as I take in life at this uncomfortably slow pace?
Instead of seeing less of the world, I am actually seeing more. I now see daily life through the eyes of my children as through a giant magnifying glass. My son is helping me re-learn how to be a noticer: the black and orange boxelder bug defying gravity on the wall, pine needles staining brown lines on the back porch, the smell of cut grass on a walk and hundreds of geese wings beating the air overhead. My son points them out, rejoicing over every detail. Details that I might have missed.
Having children has forced me to slow down and this, too, has been its own kind of soul rest.
Running, on a very practical level, is soul rest to me, but my children set my pace in this season of life and I can choose to either fight the slowness or enjoy the scenery as we mosey on our way.
How do you define "soul rest"? What kinds of activities help you feel this kind of rest? If you are a parent, what have your children pointed out to you this week that you would not have noticed otherwise?
Over the next week, I am going to be sharing a series, "7 Days of Soul Rest." Please be sure to subscribe to receive posts by email so you won't miss any!
Labels: parenthood, running, Soul Rest, Spiritual Lessons