Running as a sacrament?
So the next two chapters are about sacramental running and running as a pilgrimage.
When we consider the word sacrament or sacramental we are talking about “a sacred or holy thing” and “a visible sign of an invisible reality.” So what does this have to do with running? On Friday mornings we have talked a lot about what we see on our runs, how we experience God in the nature around us, the people we encounter, the mantras we use; there are many ways that we experience the holy. I think this chapter is speaking about a deeper experience – maybe even those experiences that we don’t talk about because there are no words to define the holy, the divine experience that we have. There are many aspects of my run that I cannot explain to someone else – there is vulnerability, openness, a childlike experience that breaks down the barriers we put up in our daily life and opens us up to an unfiltered presence of God. Just as the water is poured during Baptism, the oils are absorbed into our flesh at Confirmation, Jesus enters into us at Eucharist – there is a physical reality in running that opens us to something much greater than ourselves. As I run I experience the water droplets of sweat that run down my face and my back, the dry mouth that has absorbed all the moisture and is in want of more, the pain or discomfort that has entered my legs or lungs as I continue to push forward – these physical realities can cause me to break down and want to stop, or can remind me of the cross and point me to Jesus, opening me even more to the holy moment that I am in.
I began this journey almost a year ago to focus on getting healthier. The reality for me today is that my desire to continue running goes way beyond my physical health and weight loss.
I’ll let you chew on this for now, and I’ll respond to the pilgrimage chapter in the morning…