“There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.”
A few weeks ago, I flew to D.C. for a whirlwind engagement session for my cousin and her fiance. I planned to fly in Sunday, photograph the session that afternoon and return home Monday afternoon on a standby ticket. Because I thought the trip would be so quick, I packed very light. The flights filled up, though, so I ended up flying home Tuesday. Early Monday I checked the flights and realized mine filled up. I shifted my plan to returning home Tuesday. And I immediately went and bought gear to run in, as I had not packed running shoes or clothing.
Maybe it seems ludicrous to spend nearly $200 to get a run in during a trip that was unexpectedly lengthened, and maybe it is. I needed new running shoes at home, though, and even if I hadn’t, I may still have made the trek to the running store down the road from Rachel’s house. I knew I had a full day of work, and pairing that with changed plans demanded a run. Running works to focus my thoughts, to allow me to connect with God and to put before me a daily challenge. It helps with flexibility. I sleep better, work better, think better, love better and live better when I run more days than not.
In an unfamiliar city on a spring day, the benefits of running expand to hold the adventure of running streets I don’t know under a gentle sun. When I feel boxed in by monotony, I covet days like that Monday. I laced up brand new runners, pony-tailed my hair and wrote turn-by-turn directions on my arm, thanks to a running friend of my cousin. A six-mile route lay before me. It would take me past Iwo Jima and around Arlington Cemetery, then across the Potomac to Lincoln Memorial, along the water to Georgetown before I crossed back to Arlington and Rachel’s apartment.
And the run was glorious. If there is a running city in the U.S., D.C. is it. This directionally challenged girl may have turned a six-mile run into a nine-miler thanks to a bit of confusion on how to get to Georgetown. I didn’t even care. My feet ran hard, and my heart lightened. I felt alive, and that aliveness felt like hope and clarity.
It never ceases to amaze me that God created the world and called it good and then placed people in it who see and think and live and dream uniquely. Part of the way he put me together means a great run in a new place wakes me up to recognize his hand in my life. This year was supposed to be a year of less busy and more intentionally focused work and life, and I ran those miles staring at an over-filled plate hungry for stillness and peace. I ran those miles recommitting to doing less, because I hunger to be free to say yes to the infinite wonder of living out of who he made me to be. I learn and relearn this simple identity lesson time and again, and thankfully God is ever-patient with me. This is my life being redeemed today.
And this morning over coffee and muffins, I am thinking about that day and marveling that God is able to take small circumstances (a delayed trip home and a desire to run) as well as grandiose ones (a new baby or a miracle or, um, spring time) as well as really messy, hard ones and craft a life around his goodness. Life is rich. May you know it. May we celebrate it.