Thursday, April 30, 2015

running hills

Life is like training for a marathon - while running the marathon. 

Are you a runner?

I'm a runner. Of the crazy, "I need my six miles today" variety. Maybe you're a runner... Maybe you claim only to run when chased... 

Or maybe you're a runner, and you don't even know it.

But if you run, or are close to someone who does run, you are probably aware that there are two types of workouts that runners usually hate: hills, and speedwork.

Me? I hate speedwork - particularly speedwork on a track. So confined. So boring. Round and around and around... Bleh. It drives me nuts. But speedwork is a necessary evil - so when I do it (which is not as often as I probably should) I combine it with a run on one of my normal routes.

The other night, I combined speedwork with hills. 
Yes. I know. I'm crazy. It's nothing new. 

I actually like running hills, or at least I've brainwashed myself into liking them, as they are unavoidable in the neighborhoods where I spend most of my running time. Every run is on hills.

In the midst of this speed/hill workout the other night, it occurred to me that life is like this... like a hill workout - like a series of hill workouts. Some of them involve speedwork, training those fast-twitch muscles to react quickly. Some of them are long, slow distance runs, to build endurance.

But whatever the pace, they always involve hills, and some of them seem nearly impossible. Yet, as in running, when I reach the top of a hill after a grueling climb and stand at its crest, there is something glorious about reaching the top of one of those hills in the journey of life.

Yet the workouts get progressively harder. Life is like training for a marathon - while running the marathon. The hills get steeper, the overall elevation increases, the distances get longer.

Some days, it's hard to run fast. Some days, it's hard to run long distance. Once in awhile, the toe of your shoe catches a crack in the pavement and you land on your butt. Sometimes, you get hurt and have to take some time walking to recover.

And of course, you always have to eat. And if you want to perform your best, you have to eat well.

The further I run, the harder I run, the more hungry I am afterward. Makes sense. (And man, there is nothing like post-long-run hunger. Whoa.)

It makes sense spiritually, too - the harder I "train," the more time I spend trying to do God's work, or at least do his will, the more time I spend learning to hear his voice - the more hungry my soul becomes for him - and the more I need him, in prayer and particularly in the Eucharist. There is no better food than Jesus himself. 

Here is to running the race that is set before me, before us - to going the distance in faith, through the sore muscles, the heartaches, the sprains, the windy days, the days when we feel great, and the days (and months, and years) when we feel like everything is falling apart. 

Then, when we crest that last hill, and stand atop it next to the Lord, looking out over the heavenly Jerusalem, he will say, "You have finished the race. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come to the feast."

You're a runner... whether you knew it before, or not

Joining the Blessed is She linkup on "life" this lovely Thursday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

forgetting easter

Easter. Resurrection. Christ is risen from the dead. How quickly we forget that Easter is more than a day... 

I could wax theological on the resurrection, but waxing theological doesn't feel right to me this evening. I've pondered the topic of "resurrection" today, thinking about what I might write. Sitting here now, I realize that thinking about this, isn't the approach I need to take.

I'm analytical by nature - I like to think about things, to solve problems, to pick things apart - but some things don't require my analysis - they only require my heart.

This Triduum was difficult for me. My Confirmation  students were required to attend the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday, and Easter Vigil - and  sit together. Which meant I had to sit with them. Which meant I had to be constantly conscious of them, and their behavior - in addition to trying to be fully present to worship Christ. That was... not easy. To say the least. I had to focus on them with my head, while trying simultaneously to focus on the Lord with my heart.

By the time Holy Saturday arrived, I wasn't sure if I was more excited because the Easter Vigil was that evening, or because it was the last Mass at which I would have to play "mother hen" for my students... But if I'm honest, it was probably the latter. Yes, such joy to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus!

Easter Sunday, my husband and I attended Mass again - this time, with my family - and then spent the afternoon with them. By Easter Sunday evening, I was tired, kinda crabby, and a bit miffed that well, Easter Sunday had seemed more full of chaos than grace!

The next morning - Easter Monday - I went to my parish's morning Mass. As I walked into the chapel, I noticed the morning light streaming through the stained glass window on the east wall. The warm light touched everything in the chapel sanctuary and it positively GLOWED... I knelt to pray, and suddenly, I couldn't stop crying.

Easter. Thank you, Jesus, that Easter is more than a day - and that your Resurrection is for all eternity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

the breaking of the bread

Then the two recounted what had happened on the way, 

and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 

Today's Gospel (Lk. 24: 13-35) tells the story of the two disciples who unknowingly meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus, not recognizing him until he blesses and breaks the bread. 
This is one of my favorite Gospel readings. I wait for it every year during the Octave of Easter, and it has often been a beloved companion in lectio divina. 

I'd hoped to go to Mass this morning, but other obligations (i.e., my day job) intervened. My home parish doesn't have a Wednesday evening Mass, so driving home from work this evening, I stopped off for Mass at another nearby parish where I attend daily Mass on occasion. I never quite feel comfortable there - it's a good, solid parish, but it's simply not "home." 

In any case, I wasn't about to give up Easter Wednesday Mass.

As I listened to the Gospel, I imagined how those two disciples would have felt - encountering Jesus on the way. They were completely out of their comfort zone - not yet knowing Jesus had risen - probably still in fear of the authorities, in addition to feeling confusion and grief - one can see how it would have been easy for them not to recognize the risen Lord. Yet, their hearts burn within them as he explained the scriptures, and then they know him in the breaking of the bread. 

They know him in the Mass, as it were - the Word, and the Eucharist. And though they were not "at home," they still found the Lord - or rather, the Lord found them

Lord Jesus, I prayed as the priest said the words of consecration, help us to know you in this breaking of the bread. 



Thursday, April 2, 2015

what wondrous love is this

"What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul... "

Lord Jesus, what love you show us - 
In the gift of your Body and Blood 
And the gift of your life.

In your gently waking me when I fall asleep on watch,
And in the grace that is to share in your Cross 
 - even when the pain is beyond my imagining. 

In the joy that is to know the fire of your love, 
And to know that you are Love, 
That you are Light, 
And Life everlasting.

And that as your life became intertwined with the mystery of suffering and death, 
Ours shall be no different.