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Year Three, Day 9: Called to Run

I did something very brave today! No, I didn't quite wake up in time for a sunrise run. But I did go to the track.  It was a glorious day. The warm sunshine thawed out my chest. My lungs feel clear.
I walked a brisk 1/2 half mile, including 100 steps of jogging. I plan on increasing this daily.

I am most inspired to make running a part of my life again!

But the brave thing I REALLY wanted to boast about is that I went to a new church!

One of the ladies from the church, that had invited me to the "Single Ladies' Luncheon" months ago had invited me to bible study.  She is such a sweet woman. I felt it was a good sign. And today, with the clear blue sky and sun already warm at 9:00 a.m., was a good time to venture across the lawn, a mere two minute walk to the church where I work as an administrative assistant during the week.

It was nice to not have to hurry on a Sunday. I decided spontaneously on my walk over, that today would be a true day of rest. No working. No worrying. Just being.  Living joyfully!

Church was lovely.  The bible study was fascinating. I was especially interested in the video we watched before our discussion. It featured James Efird, Professor Emeritus of Duke Divinity School. I only regret that I did not bring a notebook. My fingers were itching to take copious notes!

Worship was also lovely. I was delighted that the pastor's mother, grandmother, and stepdaughter all attended. We sat together. I tried to control myself from my joyful, noisy singing when a song came up on screen I liked. I think I succeeded!

After worship, many people came over to meet me and visit.  It was nice to attach the names I type in the office to the faces smiling at me, reaching out to shake my hand.  It was a warm, welcoming feeling.

This church is about community.  I really got that.  I was thinking about all the different churches I have attended over the years. There always seems to be a strong point that brings me back to the ones that pull me.

My current "home" church is Portland Bible Church. I am fed with deep, intellectual stimulation. Yes, we pray. We sing. I love that the music director gives a little talk on the history of each hymn that we sing.  But the focus is study. In depth bible study. The pastor has degrees in ancient languages.  We study the scripture word for word. I love this. I take copious notes! The people are lovely there too.  We have a break half way through where we get to visit. What I really love is that during break, we talk about God and scripture and how to apply what we learn in our lives.  I think the freedom I feel there is that they do not own the church. They rent space at the Community Music Center.  So we all pitch in to set up church before hand, and then take down church and clean up afterwards. The building is not the church. The people are the church.

One of my favorite churches where I always felt the Spirit, was Relevant Life Church in Salem.  My son would often attend with me. Which really warmed my heart. Their praise band was dynamic. I would walk in, and start to dance and clap and sing. It was ok for me to be loud and joyful at Relevant Life. How freeing it was to not feel self conscious praising God!  Not only was the music vibrant, the pastor was high energy, thought provoking, but humble. His whole family was involved in the ministry of the church. But we did not feel like outsiders. I still follow them on Facebook. Truly a spirit fulled church!

Another church that I have been drawn to, and continue to return to over the years is St. Ignatius. It is a Jesuit Catholic parish. I was attending St. Ignatius when the puff of smoke was released at the Vatican, signaling that we had a new pope. Pope Francis. Whom I adore.

St. Ignatius fulfilled my longing for reverence, the mystery of the Mass and the holiness of God.  I did two Novenas of Grace and one Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) at St. Ignatius. What I truly miss is the weekday mass and especially Saturday morning liturgy.  All the masses are presided over by Jesuits priests. Except for Saturday morning liturgy. A very dear, humble, but deeply spiritual lay female minister presides on Saturday. Our group was usually small. Only 7 to 10 people. We were start by reciting the rosary. Then we would have scripture reading, homily and prayer.  My favorite part was when we would stand and hold hands in a small circle as we recited the Lord's Prayer. Then we would hug each other and share the Peace of Christ.

My schedule does not permit me to attend this service currently. But I hope to change that in the future.

My mind was filled with all of these thoughts after today's service.  Which I enjoyed. I do not feel led to critique worship. They are all a reflection of the people.  And we are all God's children. I have been fed in so many different ways from every worship situation I have been involved in.

But after worship today, before I headed out to lunch and the library, I felt led back to the track. There was a tree that was beckoning me.  Underneath this tree, I sat with my back against it's strong trunk. A gentle breeze lifted my hair.

And I prayed. And I journalled. And then I knit a few rows on my grandbaby's blanket.

And I felt spiritually complete.

Now that I have returned to running again after so many years, it is almost as if I have come full circle.  Trees, hills, the wind in my hair, the running track. All give me feelings of deep peace.

I read an inspiring piece in the magazine "Runner's World" at lunch today. It is called "Running Home" by Mark Remy:

"Life is a series of small choices that can have profound effects. It's so random. And so scary. This, I think, is another reason I run. Running helps me cope with this knowledge, this randomness and scariness. When I run, whether it's for 20 minutes or two hours, life isn't random or scary anymore. The big picture shrinks to a more manageable size.  Running, I come to realize is the stitching that's held my life together. No just day to day, but year to year, life stage to life stage."

For me, I could insert the word "walk".  For when I walk, I think. I pray.  I could also insert the word "play piano".  Or "knit".  

These things all bring me peace and help me make sense of my life. But ultimately, they seem to open the channel to a conversation with God.

I feel like running will be the next level.  It is a little scary, because running is more physical.  It is not easy. Not like an afternoon stroll. Or sitting on the ground, underneath the shade of a large, sturdy tree.  Or sitting rocking, knitting a baby blanket. Or even practicing the piano.

But it is necessary for me. I am being called to run.

And run I shall!

On that note, I am off to have dinner with my son.

It is a glorious day!

Happy Sunday!

Talk to you tomorrow!




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