I was heavy as a child. At about the age of 12, my mom urged (forced) me to start running with her. It was the eighties, and girls should be skinny (not healthy or well-proportioned…skinny). I hated it.
Over the years, what started out as a painful hour of torture has become something quite different. It has become my time with God. It is an hour of thinking, reflection and prayer.
I no longer run for appearance, I run because I crave this one-on-one time with God. It is my time to watch the sun rise, to thank God for all my blessings, to talk through tough decisions, to beg forgiveness for my sins.
When my parents were getting divorced, I would go for a run and cry to God for comfort. When I was dealing with my own marriage problems, I would go for a run and ask God for guidance and direction. When I yelled at my kids or fought with my mom or said something mean or hurtful, I would go for a run and beg God for forgiveness.
Running has also been a time of celebration. On the day of my wedding, my mom and I woke up early and went for a run to thank God for all of our blessings and celebrate this new adventure called marriage. When my kids were babies, I would run and push them in the stroller, pointing out all the exciting things in our neighborhood – the trees, the flowers, the puppies, and even an occasional fox or deer.
On my morning runs with God, I see the sunrise and know that he is there. I experience the changing seasons – hearing the birds chirping with the coming of spring… feeling the warmth and sun of summer… tasting the crisp air of autumn… and shivering in the dark, somber mornings of winter. I love them all.
I was reading an interview with an elite runner, and one of the questions asked if he had a chant or mantra. It’s common among runners to have a phrase or saying to repeat during a run to stay motivated. Common mantras are “You can do it,” “One more step,” “Keep it going,” you get the idea. Anyway, this elite runner was asked if he had a mantra, and he replied, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It really struck me. And, since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I thought that I would give it a try on my next run.
That was about a year ago. I now finish each morning run with an exhilarating ¼ mile climb, the mountains in the distance, the radiant sunrise above me, and recite The Lord’s Prayer. No matter what is going on in the world, for that moment, I am at peace. I am with God.