Saturday, June 21, 2008
Having just returned from the annual summer beach trip, I find myself walking around with very sore calf muscles. One of the things I look forward to on beach trips is running along the shoreline where the surf runs up on the sand. I run barefoot. I play. It is great fun to run along in the edge of the water, sometimes inches deep, and sometimes deep enough to splash all over me as I move along. If it is raining, it is even better. There is something about these annual runs that let me know I am still alive and well enough to feel like I could run forever on that ribbon of water as it touches the beach. Trust me. It works on leg muscles which have spent too much time on the couch. The wet sand tries to grab and hold your foot and the surface is uneven putting quite a strain on ankles that are not used to being free of shoes. Running barefoot along the beach splashing water as you go is a far different experience than lacing up the shoes and hitting the ashphalt! Every year as I return from the beach I think it is going to be the first mile of a renewed commitment to a running program, but somehow it doesn't seem to happen. I get home, the muscles cease crying out when I move, and I get caught up in that "best of intentions" syndrome.
I have wondered why I am disciplined enough to run at the beach but not at home. Maybe it is the different setting. Maybe it is that I go with such expectations. Maybe I am not letting the structure of my life tell me what to do or not to do. Maybe it is the absence of structure. It makes me think, too, about the spiritual disciplines in my life. I wonder if part of the difficulty in staying with some program of spiritual disicpline has to do with the way that the structure of my life dictates what I shall or shall not do. And so, I ask myself in such moments of reflection if the structure of my life has become my god? Or, I wonder if I do not approach the moment which provides for exercising spiritual disicpline with an intentionality that speaks of priority. At the beach, surf running is a priority. Rain or I shine I do it. Regardless of what is going on around me, I make time. Often, not once, but twice a day! Ah, if I could just have the surf runner's mentality when it comes to those early morning hours God calls me to pray, or to those evenings when the Word sits beside my chair unopened. Maybe this time...