Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A half marathon, beauty and a tombstone

 3 days, 9 hours, 44 minutes

While everyone else is busy setting goals and making resolutions for 2012,  I am still working on a dream from 2011. Maybe it was turning 50 and realizing that some things are sliding into the “now or never” category, but, for whatever reason,  I signed up for my very first  half marathon.   I’ve been a runner since high school -  in the early years of Title IX when I ran on the boys cross country team.  I’ve done 5Ks and 10Ks.  But, I had never tried this distance and had to register in the "50-54" age group.  

Ever so slowly, a quarter mile at a time, I began adding mileage and working my way up the distance ladder.  My body parts, however, were not so sure.  Each run started with aches, creaky old knees that were slow to warm up, IT band issues, complaints from my ankles, shins and an old broken toe.  I was whiny.  I was cold.  I was too hot.  My pace was too slow.  What was I thinking?  But, for most runs, by mile 3, I was in the zone and determined to finish.  

I’m old and I'm slow, but I'm still running and down to 3 days, 9 hours, and 44 minutes to the starting gun for the Charleston Marathon.   I’ll keep you posted.



 Beauty as Diet Aid

            I would like to say I’m a strong, disciplined person, set on following through with my healthy living resolutions. The fact of the matter, alas, is I’m weak. I need incentives, rewards, perks, friends and the like to prod me along. My tumbler, pictured left, was a Christmas splurge for myself. Its purpose is twofold. One it reminds me of lessons learned when I did a 21-day detox diet with a fellow co-worker last year just before Thanksgiving. She is a wonderful cook and a foodie who felt sorry for my uncreative diet and thought this would be a good way to refresh my palate. She was right.

            Two, it’s pretty. I like looking at it. The tumbler reminds me of the simple things I can do that can make a big difference. Small investments in health can reap big benefits.  One big advantage of the diet is that it retrained my taste buds and got me off my high sugar load. Spiritually, it reminded me that stripping away excesses and getting back to basics always is good for the soul.



       I couldn't read his name when I happened upon his tombstone beside the
marsh.  There were a half dozen others scattered among the trees,
relocated a few years ago from where they had rested for decades or
centuries before Interstate 526 needed them to make way.  I read aloud
the names on those I could decipher.  I couldn't say why, except that
I liked the thought of someone hundreds of years from now doing
likewise if she came across my name on an ancient stone.  But the top
half of this stone had broken off who knows how long ago.  There was
no name to read, only the epitaph.  "The latter departed this life the
29th of June 1808 after a long and tedious decline which he endured
with meek resignation to the will of God. Aged 23 years and 8 months."

       Questions flooded my mind.  Who wrote the epitaph?  What was his
illness?  Just how long was his decline?  Who took care of him?  Did
he live his whole life in Charleston?  What kind of medical care was
available here in the early 1800s?  But most of all what I wondered
about was his "meek resignation to the will of God."  

       Was he meekly resigned from the beginning, or did he (like any 23-year-old 
I can imagine) rage at the unfairness of his disease?  How many prayers for
healing went unanswered before he gave up and decided his imminent
death must be God's will?  And was he right or wrong?  I'm not of the
opinion that everything that happens is what God wants to happen, or
that everything outside our control -- accidents, hurricanes,
earthquakes, etc. -- can be attributed to God's will.  I must confess
to a lot of guesswork where the will of God is concerned.  The Bible
is not much help, since it tells us repeatedly to do the will of God
without specifying what that might mean.  The few verses I could find
that told explicitly what God's will was included our sanctification
(1 Thess. 4:3), doing right (1 Pet. 2:15), and giving thanks in all
circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18).  That leaves a lot unknown.

       Here is where I can relate to the nameless young man with the broken
tombstone.  At some point, he probably prayed, as Jesus had, "Not my
will but yours be done."  Did he feel afraid as he prayed that prayer?
 I often do, and with good reason.  The will of God is too much a
mystery.  Author Frederick Buechner  reminds us of what we are really 
saying when we pray the Lord's Prayer.  

       "'Thy will be done' is what we are saying. That is the climax of the 
first half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking
God to do not what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to
make manifest the holiness that is mostly hidden, to set free in all
its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under
restraint. 'Thy kingdom come…on earth' is what we are saying. And if
that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what
would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who would be thrown the Hell
out? Which if any of our most precious visions of what God is and of
what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the mark and
which would turn out to be phony as three-dollar bills? Boldness
indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage,
to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze."
        When I think about it that way, the epitaph on the young man's broken
tombstone tells of an admirable faith.  I pray that in this new year I
can find the strength necessary for "meek resignation to the will of
God," whatever that will might be.

                                           Frederick Buechner quote from Whistling in the Dark



  1. A common thread to these three offerings . . . ? Perhaps that we all have choices to make each day, ones that enhance or detract from our spiritual fitness. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us!

  2. Stacy, wow! Powerful stuff! Thank you!!