Monday, December 8, 2014

After a Half Marathon Walk: Mulling What Matters

The meaning I am finding in the life I've been given isn't going to come from extravagant gestures. It comes, the way grace comes, every day, step by step, ordinary moment by ordinary moment. That is the lesson I learned over the weekend, when my husband and I participated in a half marathon in San Antonio, Texas.

We had trained for this race for months, spending our Saturday and Sunday mornings together, walking and running through parks by the river in our neighborhood. The plan was to meet up with dear old friends in San Antonio for the Rock and Roll series' half marathon. My friend Meredith is a diehard half marathon walker and the weekend was a way to join her and to celebrate her husband's fiftieth birthday. She and her husband, whom we met as engaged couples in Raleigh, NC, are raising their children  outside Indianapolis. They walk much faster than we do and were several corrals ahead of us.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Half Marathons and the Potentate of Time

Today: John Lynch Bridge, Piscataway, NJ
This morning, in subfreezing temperatures, my husband and I completed eight miles of walking, punctuated by tenth-of-a-mile runs. Tonight, after our two-hour naps, I went to 5 p.m. Mass at our parish, not remembering until I showed up that this Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Accepting Mercy On the Supermarket Line

I am watching the cashier at the local supermarket ring up my purchase.  $25.72. I pass over my singles, one at a time, then the two five dollar bills, then the four dollars worth of quarters I found in various nooks in my car. And I realize I am 72 cents short.

I am buying tonight's dinner - a full chicken for roasting, a bag of carrots and four sweet potatoes.

I am also buying a half gallon of soy milk, a dozen eggs, and a jar of applesauce because I plan to bake oatmeal raisin cookies on this rainy November night. I glance over my purchase. What don't we need tonight?

"Oh, let me put two of those sweet potatoes back," I tell the cashier.

The woman behind me in line smiles. She offers the cashier three quarters. "This happens to me all the time, " she says to me

For a split second, I feel embarrassed. I want to explain to her that my husband's paycheck clears at midnight tonight, that we are solidly middle class family with two jobs, a mortgage that is paid on time. Truly, I could have found those quarters on the floor of my sedan, I want to say.

But she's smiling and I realize none of that matters: whether I am temporarily without three quarters, or whether this is a daily occurrence.

She wants me to buy those two extra sweet potatoes and she was put in front of me so I could be humble and accept her gesture.

How often our pride gets in the way of seeing the hand of Our Creator. I like to think of myself as the giver, not the receiver: I'd spent part of my afternoon at the wake of a friend's father, a man who had had an often difficult life. I had actually been trying to list the  seven - is it seven? - corporal works of mercy on my drive home, patting myself on the back (figuratively of course) for driving to the wake and comforting this friend and never considering that I might be in need of mercy, too.

A world so free and profligate reveals your loving hand, O Lord. With dawn and all the gifts of day we praise you, Abba, breath and word.  
– Lauds and Vespers, Camaldolese Monks, OSB