The breakfasts were ready and the lunches were packed and the backpacks sat by the front door ready to go. I kissed little heads goodbye and kissed the scruffy cheek goodbye and left to gather up my manna for today and run.
The weather was crisp and breeze was cool and the leaves have already started turning colors a little bit here in the mountains. And I jogged along, my breathing shallow and loud and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. No music, no distractions. I didn’t look even once at my phone to see what my pace was or what time it was or how much distance I had covered. For the first time, I decided to just enjoy it. And I discovered that the birds chirp louder before 10 am and the cicadas are still here singing their songs and the dew stays wet longer on the left side of this particular road and if someone were to hear me run they’d worry I’m about to collapse. And there was some blue sky and some gray clouds and I noticed too that the leaves that have started changing color are brightest against the gray sky, not the blue.
And that’s what I made out of my manna today: It’s the backdrop of gray and rain and discouragement and disappointment that makes the colors of our true character shine the brightest, not the sunny days when everything looks wonderful.
What I love most about running isn’t the actual exercise but everything else that goes with it. The time totally alone and to myself and the fresh air and the sunshine. With each pounding step I take, my thoughts shake to the surface of my brain and escape into the air, and the ridiculous and mundane thoughts get skimmed off and the good stuff sticks around and takes root. The stuff God shows me and the stuff I learn about myself and the stuff I see in His creation — that’s the stuff that sticks.
Today marked three weeks of starting running again, and while I’m so very, very far from the half-marathon training runs I used to do, I noticed the past few runs have been smoother. I’m getting stronger and a little bit faster and I’m running more than I’m walking. And today was the first time I got to the top of the big hill and didn’t have to stop to catch my breath…I was able to just keep moving on. And for the past few runs, it’s actually felt really, really good to run and I’ve felt like I could go on forever. That’s what I like to call “progress.”
I’m thankful for legs that are strong enough to carry me for two-mile runs. I’m thankful for a husband who’s willing and supportive and does what he can to make it possible for me to pursue the things that excite me, like running. I’m thankful to live in a gorgeous part of the country where it looks and feels like fall in the fall, and that each week I get to see the progression of the season a little more at a time, up close and personal. And I’m thankful that God speaks to me when I’m there.
What are you thankful for this week?