The Answer to an Unspoken Question.

Lack of updates is nothing more than pure busy: I am having a hard time keeping up with my life right now.

This weekend, after the end of a long walk with Finley on an absolutely glorious night, I was heading back to the house when I ran into my neighbor.

My next door neighbor, you see, is the pastor of the church down two doors from us. He and his wife are wonderful neighbors; kind to Owen, who is prone to walking through their hard-earned flower beds to get a stray wiffle ball. They see me run past their house many times, and ask about my race plans and how I’m doing.

They’re wonderful people, and great neighbors.

We chatted for a few moments about his youngest son, recovered from cancer which ravaged him only a few short years ago, who just graduated college. We spoke of how Owen was heading to kindergarten in the fall.

How fast time goes, we agreed.

And he pointed out that it was nearly five years ago that we baptized our son. And he was too kind to ask out loud, but an unspoken question hung between us.

Why hasn’t he seen us in church?

Five years ago, my grandparents and parents and aunt and uncle came to visit us, and we had Owen baptized in that church. We joined that church afterwards, in part because we thought it would be a good way to meet people in the community, and we wanted Owen to grow up with a good foundation in religion.

We stopped going, in part because Owen hated being in the nursery when he was a toddler, and he was too young for the Sunday School classes.

But mostly we stopped going because a lot of kind of crappy stuff happened in my life and being in church made me kind of pissed off. Jeff didn’t really want to go if I didn’t go.

My relationship with God and religion is, well… complicated. I have a hard time believing in “God’s plan” whenever something bad happens. I have a hard time with people using religion to duck accountability and responsibility for their hand in causing pain. I have a hard time when religion or God is used to discriminate between the “good” people (who are clearly going to heaven) and the “others” (who have not yet been saved from the fiery pits of MORDOR!).

I have always felt that religion was man’s way of trying to put a box around something that was too big for us to understand. And I despair when I see people fighting in the name of religion.

And then? I started running. And I ran country roads when I was training for my marathon.

My town and the surrounding area is woods and farm and marsh and low stone walls.

It’s breathtaking.

I have seen deer, and listened to deafening birdsong in early summer, and smelled the fullness of the woods all around me. I run in the warmth of summer, the riot of color in fall, the crispness of winter, the green of spring. I run in the darkness of early morning, the dew of late mornings, the heat of the afternoons, and the softness of the evenings.

On my run, I feel closer to a god, the universe, the pulse of humanity – whatever “God” is – than I EVER did in any church. I feel connected, and part of something bigger. I am strong, and thankful for my life, for the power that flows through my legs.

I didn’t know how to say this, though, to our pastor – whose own son spent years in cancer treatment, who can’t work in certain fields because of his “medical condition.”

So I didn’t say anything.

And instead, I stood with my neighbor and marveled at how quickly time flies.

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4 comments on “The Answer to an Unspoken Question.

  1. Justine says:

    This is breathtakingly beautiful, too. I think it’s OK that you didn’t say anything; I suspect he knows the answer. And I think he would be glad that you have come to know God in a way that makes sense to you.

  2. Valerie says:

    I can fully relate to this post. Very well said.

  3. Ellen K. says:

    I think there are plenty of ways to recognize God. And a clarifying, quiet, and strengthening activity, such as distance running, definitely has transcendental possibilities — no, probabilities!

    Re: the concept of bad things being part of “God’s plan,” I think that cliche hurts and alienates a lot of people, and there’s no biblical support for it. Teachers and preachers need to stop that sh*t. : )

  4. Beautiful and poignant and fitting.

    I always feel my most alive, most myself, most connected after working out. There is something to be said for the power of endorphins and of connecting with the one body we have in this life.

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