Monday, April 12, 2010
This weekend I met up with some friends for a running relay. Each person ran twice for a total of sixty or so miles through scenic trails. I was ready for some time alone to enjoy fresh air, pray and use my muscles. Earlier in the week I had come across a psalm celebrating the freedom found in following God’s path. I was ready to have the available brain space to let the words sink in.
My first leg was 6.2 miles. The initial stretch was a steady incline through the trees and the rest was a gradual decent on wide, smooth dirt. I had intended to run at a pace that I would be comfortable with but found myself out of sorts as I was continually passed by other runners. And they weren’t just the scrawny cross-country kids you see hunching around with bags of Doritos at the starting line. The people passing me were mostly women my age or older. Some much older. Some much, much older. Needless to say, what tattered scrap of ego, left around from years in college athletics, found its way into the bloodstream and I lengthened my stride. I continued to get passed, and found myself distracted by vain folly.
Somewhere in mile five, as I was shuffling down the road, for reasons still unknown to me, I tripped, rolling my ankle and catching my downhill momentum on my knee and two palms. No multi-stage stumble; the kind where an outside chance remains that the person may right themselves. No. I just fell. And I fell fast. Without any grace. For half a second I stared at the dirt in front of my nose, quickly scrambled to my feet and looked around for witnesses. Then I started running again. Slowly at first. A few pity sniffles escaped. Then I worked my way back up to speed and eventually finished.
This afternoon I rolled up my pant leg to show the big kids the twin strawberries on my left knee. They inspected with sympathy and admiration. Falling is regular fare in their world. But Mister had questions.
“Did the other girls fall?”
“Did you have to get up and keep going?”
“Were you looking backwards with your head and not looking where you were going?”
No, the other girls didn’t fall. Yes, I did have to get up and keep going. No, I was not looking backwards. But I fell all the same. Sometimes that is just how it goes. But we get up. Check for damage. Have a little cry. And get back to the business for which God has made us. Still running. Still on the path. With hearts set free, even if our knees are bloody.
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32