Category Archives: Christian Science

Wrap it up. I’ll take it.

So I went to kung fu class this morning. I think that’s the most fun I’ve had since I moved to Tulsa. I have no idea how I managed to make it almost three years without setting foot on a mat. Guess it’s like any addiction: You’re OK as long as you stay away from it completely, but as soon as you get another hit, it’s all over. 😉

After some initial stretching and a few crunches and push-ups, we went right into stances, blocks, rolls, and falls.

A lot of the moves are the same things we did in karate, except they have different names, but there were a lot of stances I hadn’t learned yet, and some of the blocks were different.

One major difference is in the way we hold our hands: In karate, we usually kept our hands in fists so we were ready to punch the snot out of an attacker. In kung fu, we keep our hands more open — often in sort of a tiger-claw position — so that’s a big thing I’ll have to remember.

The best thing about this morning: I finally got the hang of forward rolls. My new sifu (instructor — the Chinese equivalent of sensei), Chris Johnston, made me do them over and over and over and over and over and over and over until I got them. And I didn’t get to start from a kneeling position like we did in karate, either. I had to dive right in from a standing position. Scary. Awesome, but scary. And as soon as I got the hang of rolling over my right arm and shoulder, he said, “Good! Now, try it with the other arm.”


I didn’t do that quite so well, but I intend to move the furniture out of the way in the living room and devote part of next week to left-handed zempo kaitens. (I don’t know what we call them in kung fu, but that was what they were called in karate.) I don’t do weakness, and I don’t do fear. Both got the best of me this morning, but that’ll be the last time I let that happen. If I can’t work through those claims by myself, I’ll just cheat and call a practitioner.

If anybody in Tulsa is looking for a good place to work out, this class meets at noon Saturdays and 6 p.m. Wednesdays behind the QuikTrip at Southwest Boulevard and 33rd Avenue West. It’s in the strip mall up behind the QT. Sifu Chris Johnston and his wife used to hold classes over on Sheridan, but they live in Red Fork and got sick of driving all the way across town for class umpteen times a week. The new location isn’t “officially” open, but Chris says anybody who’s interested is welcome to come in and work out for free. Once he finishes remodeling the new space, he’ll start charging for classes and holding more workouts per week. In the meantime, you’ve got a primo chance to come in and see whether kung fu is your bag.

I found martial arts to be a very liberating sort of thing. Besides being a terrific workout, it gave me a lot of confidence. Ron was laughing about it today, remembering how different I was before my first lesson. I spent 25 years scared of my shadow, afraid somebody was going to attack me. After about three lessons, I was sort of hoping somebody would try something stupid so I could test-drive my latest kick.

A few years later, I’ve mellowed considerably, but I’m still the one who gets up to see what went bump in the night. These days, I’ll certainly respond to an attack with prayer … but as far as I’m concerned, if somebody tries to hurt me, there’s no reason I can’t recognize his innocence as a child of God while he’s lying face-down on the ground with his arm pinned behind his back, waiting for the cops to show up. My practitioner assures me that we always have the right to restrain error. Beating the poor schlep senseless just for the fun of it would be considered conduct unbecoming a Christian Scientist, but dealing with an emergency in a sensible manner is certainly not out of line.


Stuff I have learned

I was thinking about all the stuff I have learned in the past year. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I think it hits the highlights pretty well:

1. A fiery temper should be considered a manifestation of error, not a personality trait.
2. Nobody is really an idiot, although a good stunt double can make it look that way sometimes.
3. It is entirely possible for conservatives and hippies to get along, even without the assistance of beer.
4. Chivalry is not dead.
5. Every girl should know how to defend herself against an attacker, change a tire, and perform basic home repairs. It should not, however, be considered antifeminist to allow a man to do any of the above for you if it seems appropriate.
6. Richard Bach was right: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.”
7. And the real gift is understanding that there is really no such thing as a problem. Period.
8. Bruce Lee was right: Sometimes your opponents are your best teachers.
9. Mortal mind is a terrorist. Don’t negotiate with it.
10. When you believe you’ve been wronged, take the Hitchhiker’s Guide’s advice: DON’T PANIC.
11. In a pinch, it is perfectly reasonable to expect God to supply you with quarters for the parking meter.
12. In heavy traffic, it’s funny to flash a peace sign at the guy who just flipped you a bird.
13. Life is prettier when you pay attention to sunsets.
14. Wintergreen Lifesavers really do make sparks in the dark.
15. One well-placed ladybug can restore your faith in humanity.
16. Feeling competent is not a prerequisite for successful healing work.
17. Helping somebody else will soothe a migraine faster than Excedrin.
18. The Beatles had it right: All you need is Love.

What have you learned this year?


Diamond Girl

I don’t remember whether I’ve owned up to this previously, but I am a HUGE Neil Diamond fan. This song is the primary reason. It’s from his soundtrack to the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which was more or less based on the book by Richard Bach.

The movie was a trainwreck, but the soundtrack was phenomenal, and when I pulled it out of my mom’s closet during a day off from school my sophomore year of high school, it inspired me to reread the book — which has, in turn, inspired more or less every gutsy thing I’ve ever done in my entire life: teaching high school, conquering my fear of heights, running my first marathon. You name it — if it tested my courage or my confidence, I probably read the book again before I tackled it.

If you want to know what makes me tick, read Jonathan. It’s all in there.

In the meantime, the lyrics to “Be” will stand in for Cliff’s Notes:

On a painted sky
Where the clouds are hung
For the poet’s eye
You may find him
If you may find him

On a distant shore
By the wings of dreams
Through an open door
You may know him
If you may

As a page that aches for a word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
And the one God will make for your day

As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the sun
God will make for your way

And we dance
To a whispered voice
Overheard by the soul,
Undertook by the heart
And you may know it
If you may know it

While the sand would become the stone
Which begat the spark
Turned to living bone
Holy, holy
Sanctus, sanctus

As a page that aches for a word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
While the one God will make for your day

As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your way

— Neil Diamond

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done involved teaching the students in a special ed English class to interpret symbolism and write a five-sentence paragraph using Jonathan Livingston Seagull as the basis for the lessons. I was observing in their classroom one semester in college, and their teacher (who loved them dearly, but who had enough classroom experience to believe in the concept of limitation) assured me that there was no way any of them would be able to write a paragraph, but I was welcome to beat my head against that wall if I wanted to.

Over the next few days, the class and I read the book together, talked about what it meant, identified some symbols in it, discussed their significance, and then every last one of those kids wrote an essay called “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done.”

They got it. And by the time they were done, I think their teacher did, too.

Deep down, we are all Jonathan.


On the nature of healing

Still waiting on that baby to show up. My sister is understandably scared, so please keep lifting her up with your prayers and good thoughts.

While we wait, I have a story to share about a wonderful healing I experienced recently.

As a Christian Scientist, I don’t take medicine when I feel unwell; instead, I turn to prayer to overcome the problem. If my own work doesn’t bring quick healing, I call a practitioner to help me adjust my thoughts about the situation and focus my prayers in a more productive way.

On a recent afternoon, I was dealing with a vicious migraine headache that seemed to be intruding on my consciousness. I felt too sick to get up or read or work or even think clearly, so I picked up the phone and dialed a practitioner who often helps me in such situations.

After I talked with him, I decided to let go of the problem and just try to get some sleep. (At that point, I felt too rotten to do much of anything else anyway.)

I rested for a couple of hours, but after a little while, the thought came to me to call and check on someone who had requested prayer about a difficult situation a few days earlier.

I balked. I couldn’t possibly make that call right then. I was too sick! How could I be any help at all to this person when I felt too ill to hold my head up? I didn’t need to make a phone call. I needed to sleep!

The thought came to me again: Make the call. I tried to ignore it, but it just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I finally gave up, grabbed the phone, and made the call.

As soon as I called, the conversation commanded my full attention, and we wound up talking for the better end of 45 minutes. I felt so much love for the person I was helping — and I was so focused on trying to be helpful — that I didn’t even realize at first that I’d been up and wandering around the house the whole time we were talking. I have no idea when the headache left, but by the time we hung up, it had vanished without a trace.

I think that’s the aspect of healing that amazes me the most: We can work on our own problems and find healing, but the work goes much faster when we take a break and help somebody else in the meantime.

I think maybe it’s like math. I always thought I was terrible at math, but when I taught high school a few years ago, I supervised one section of study hall, during which I was allowed to hand out only two hall passes at a time. If three students needed to ask other teachers about their classwork, one of them would have to wait until someone returned with the pass.

In moments of desperation, the kids would bring their math books up to my desk and ask me to help them. I would joke that there was a reason I’d gotten my degree in English, but invariably, I found that in trying to help my kids, I would gain a much deeper understanding of whatever they were learning. A time or two, I found myself explaining algebra or trig concepts that had always eluded my grasp in the past.

I think metaphysical concepts are the same way: I can struggle with a problem for hours, days, or even months. I can work with an idea and work with it and work with it and get absolutely nowhere. And then, quite unexpectedly, an opportunity will arise to help someone else, and the situation will require me to understand the very idea I’ve been struggling with, and somehow — often without really thinking about it at all — I understand, and both of us are healed.


Snow photos


I went over to Sapulpa this evening to grab dinner at the Happy Burger and shoot their wonderful neon sign in the snow. I like the Christmas lights on the building. I’m going to build them a Web site as soon as I get some information from them.

I love shooting buildings and signs on Route 66 in the snow.


I didn’t see Sapulpa’s parade. I think they were going to postpone it because of the weather, but I’m not sure. There were so many cancellations and changes around here in the wake of the ice storm that I can’t begin to keep track of them all.

Red Fork in the snow

Red Fork in the snow. I love those little ornamental shrubs flanking the entrance to the art gallery.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tulsa

First Church of Christ, Scientist, at the intersection of Route 66 (11th Street) and Boulder in Tulsa. Too bad I didn’t get out there this morning, when the light was coming from the east. Everything I wanted to shoot this afternoon was backlit. Still pretty, though, with the snow on the walls and bushes.


It was still snowing some when I got this shot of the snow piling up in my hanging baskets on the deck the other night. It was quite a storm.

Hope you’re in where it’s warm tonight.


Ice and snow

It got COLD today. The pouring rain turned to sleet, and I woke up this morning to find my car covered in ice. I had to chisel it out with the scraper so I could get to work.

The sleet kept coming down all day. My boss finally told us to go home around 3:30 p.m. so we wouldn’t have to fight traffic along with the ice. By that time, it had started to snow, and it’s been snowing ever since. We’re supposed to get three to five inches by morning. I think we’ve already hit the low end of that estimate.

I got a couple of pictures of the dogs playing in the snow this evening. It was starting to get dark, and we were all getting cold, so I didn’t get anything really artsy, but I thought they were awfully cute playing out there. Here’s Songdog pestering Jason (as usual):

Jason and Song

And here’s Scout, hurrying toward the door. I don’t think she likes the snow as much as the boys do.

Scout in the snow

Since it’s too cold and slippery to go out and do anything, I’ve spent most of my evening building a new desk (really just a glorified shelf) for my office and moving the computer from the old desk to the new one. Here’s the new setup:


It’s not the prettiest desk in the world, but it makes my office much neater (or will, once I finish picking up the junk I had to pile on the floor while I was moving stuff around) and is a better use of the space in this room.

Something nice happened to me this morning.

I was getting ready for work, and I smacked my head really hard as I was picking something up off the floor in the bathroom. It was a sharp blow against a sharp corner, and if I hadn’t been thinking clearly at the time, it probably would have left me with a headache and a nasty goose egg, if not worse. But I didn’t have time for that this morning, and despite the fact that it was early and I was sleepy, I thought quickly enough to meet the claim with a quote from Science and Health:

Accidents are unknown to God.

And that was that — no pain, no headache, no bump, no evidence that anything had happened.

Every now and then, I get one right without having to call a practitioner. 🙂

I thought of that quote again this morning as I was driving to work in potentially treacherous road conditions, and as I was coming home in even scarier conditions. I really spent a lot of time working with the idea that there are no accidents and that I am “cared for, watched over, loved, and protected,” as one of my favorite hymns says.

I’m glad to be back home, and I’m even more glad that the weather is supposed to warm up tomorrow so this stuff will melt off, but I guess the cold and ice are good once in a while if they remind me that I am blessed and protected and loved.

Besides … the snow is kind of pretty, and I like the strange silence that comes with it.



Lance Armstrong would be a stud if he’d done nothing but kick cancer squarely in the butt and then win the Tour de France umpteen times. But if switching from cycling to running is half as hard as switching from running to cycling, Armstrong is not just a stud — he’s the Godolphin freakin’ Arabian.

I rode my bike six miles this evening, and it opened up a can of you-know-what on me. I loved every minute of it, too, even if I did have to get off and walk up a few hills because I was too tired to pedal.

Did you go walk around the block today? If not, get out there! You don’t have to run today. Just walk. And if you want to peek ahead at next week, I’m updating the training schedule for you as soon as I finish this post.

I have lots to be thankful for today. My bike, for starters, and the fact that I have the strength and balance to ride it, even if I’m not very good at it yet. I’ll get there. I remember when running a mile was this hard, and now here I am with three Tulsa Runs, four half-marathons, and two full marathons under my belt … so Roger had better not laugh too much at my rookie incompetence, because I’m just liable to show up in Staunton some bright summer morning and nip at his heels for 30 miles. (Given my appetite for Krispy Kremes, it’s entirely possible that I could end up with a minus sign in front of my finish time, so I might do more than nip….)

Speaking of Krispy Kremes, I’m thankful for whipped-cream-filled doughnuts.

I’m also thankful for our great Thanksgiving service at church. I’m sure it’s kind of inconvenient for some people to get there (it starts at 10:30 a.m.), but it’s such a great way to start the morning — it’s kind of like a combination of a Sunday morning service and a Wednesday night testimony meeting, because you’ve got a Lesson and a solo and stuff like on Sunday morning, but the Lesson is shorter than usual, which leaves time for the members of the congregation to stand up and talk about the healings and blessings they’ve experienced over the past year. Their stories really focus you in on the point of the holiday.

We had an unexpected blessing this afternoon.

I had planned to pick up some stuff at Wild Oats on the way home from church and just fix a batch of posole or something before Ron went to work. (Posole has become kind of a holiday tradition at our house.)

But I am supposed to be leaving town in a few hours (I’m headed for Texas to do a Route 66 preservation project this weekend), and Ron didn’t want me to have to mess with cooking lunch and cleaning up afterward, so he announced that he would be taking me to Golden Saddle — a great restaurant over on the Admiral Place alignment of 66 — instead.

We figured we’d just hit the buffet, but we got there and discovered that the buffet was closed — because they were serving a free Thanksgiving dinner to all their customers. Ron is going to put an article about that on his blog tomorrow.

In the meantime, I will just tell you that the food was amazing (they serve sweet tea — need I say more?) and we got an extra treat in the form of a singer who performed while we ate. I had a ball watching a little girl struggle valiantly to suppress the urge to dance to “Brick House.”

I love it when businesses thank their customers — and their community — by doing stuff like that. You see it all the time on Route 66. Tally’s Cafe here in Tulsa does it every year. Al’s Route 66 Cafe, over in Sapulpa, did it today. I want to say it was the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, that opened up one time during a blizzard and fed all the travelers who got stranded, and the owners of the Vega Motel have been known to share their dinner with customers who slide in on a glare of ice.

There’s so much love and kindness on this road, it almost makes me cry when I think about it. These aren’t wealthy people. These are ordinary folks who appreciate their blessings and who understand a basic concept that Mrs. Eddy explains like this:

Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us.

Add Route 66 — and the wonderful people who live and work along its shoulders — to my list of things I’m thankful for today.

I’ll be offline and on my beloved road for a couple of days. Don’t forget to check the training schedule and keep up with your runs this weekend. I’ll be back late Sunday or early Monday, and you know I’ll have pictures for you.


The camaraderie of the long-distance runner

Sorry I haven’t posted a lot in the last couple of days. It was an interesting weekend. This is going to be a really long post, but I’m making up for lost time, and I stayed up for 36 consecutive hours on Saturday and Sunday, so I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

I got an e-mail last week saying that Dan, a guy I’d met a couple of times on long runs with Fleet Feet last year, was in need of pacers to help him in the Mother Road 100, a 100-mile footrace down Route 66 from Arcadia to Sapulpa. Basically, what pacers do is take turns running with an ultramarathoner for a few miles at a time to keep his spirits up. This is very important in the later miles of the race, when the runner is tired and ready to quit.

My friend Terriann and I signed up to run with him for an hour apiece. We wound up meeting him in Stroud around 6:30 p.m. Saturday and pacing him for a little while. That was a really cool experience, for several reasons. First, Dan is a really sweet, really upbeat guy who is a LOT of fun to run with. Second, it was an excuse to run down Route 66 in the dark, which I have done only once before, and which is a singularly weird and beautiful experience. And third, as I was jogging with Dan, I heard the familiar “beep-beep!” of a Volkswagen horn. I glanced up to see none other than Bob Waldmire — the award-winning Route 66 artist and unofficial inspiration for the character of Fillmore in the movie Cars — cruising down 66 toward us in his Microbus. He was headed for the Rock Cafe, where Terriann was waiting for my hour to end so she could drive out to drop off the car and start running with Dan herself. When she arrived, I drove back to the Rock to get her some dinner and visit with Bob. I got to the restaurant just in time to find Bob holding court with Michael Bates, a Tulsa blogger who gives me a shout-out now and then when I post a picture he likes. I’d never met him in person but recognized him from a picture I’d seen. He and Bob and I had an amusing conversation about the merits of the Type 2 Volkswagen in its various incarnations.

That would have been cool enough by itself, but it was not the coolest thing that happened on Route 66 that night.

On Thursday night, I’d fired off an e-mail to the race organizers, asking if it would be helpful if I took a cooler full of Gatorade and Carb-Boom up and down the course after we finished helping Dan. I thought I might serve as a sort of aid station on wheels, dispensing encouragement and nourishment to any runners who might need it.

On Friday morning, I got an e-mail back saying that the aid station in Kellyville was unmanned, and they really needed volunteers to put something together. Kellyville was 84 miles into the race. That’s awfully late in the game to come to an aid station and find nothing but a portapotti.

Having been a journalist since I was 9 years old, I tend to work well under deadline pressure, so I called up Terriann, sent out a few e-mails, and then made a Wal-Mart run on my way home from work Friday. (Yeah, I know, but it was for a good cause. I used to cheat and eat meat once in a while when I was a vegetarian, too. So I’m not a purist. Sue me.)

Less than 24 hours later, Terriann, her mom and I were running an aid station. It was frightfully cold, and although we didn’t have anything warm to offer the runners to drink (we couldn’t come up with a way to keep stuff hot on such short notice), we did keep our cars running, so everybody had a safe, warm place to thaw out if they needed it.

Early in the evening, an idea came to me to run out and meet any lone runners and pace them in. It wasn’t far, but at least it might lift their spirits to have someone come and run with them a little way. Some of them REALLY appreciated it. Terriann’s mom, Margaret, watched me a few times and then decided to join me. When the last runner came through Sunday morning, we decided to pace her for a while. I ran with her for maybe a mile and a half or two miles, and then I left for church, and Margaret took over. Terriann reported later that Margaret had gone about five miles with the girl — not bad for a non-runner, eh?

Margaret really had no idea what she was in for when she agreed to come along with Terriann, and I’d assumed she and Terriann would stay for a few hours and then head home (I certainly wouldn’t have blamed them if they had), but once they saw the need, they absolutely refused to leave me out there by myself, and the two of them worked tirelessly throughout the night to help these runners meet their goals.

The organizers had told us to plan for 30 people. We had four times that many come through our station, not counting the pacers who were tagging along with some of the competitors, so we either seriously overestimated the amount of food those folks would eat, or else we had some serious loaves and fishes action going on.

I think it was maybe a little of both: I’d bought way more animal crackers and pretzels than we needed, but I only brought one loaf of bread, and one thing I learned was that ultramarathoners will eat a LOT of PBJs. Somehow that one loaf of bread fed 120 people. I shouldn’t be surprised — I’ve seen over and over how “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need,” as Mrs. Eddy says — but it still blows my mind every time I see a demonstration like that.

Before the race, I’d e-mailed a few friends from church and asked them to pray specifically for the runners’ strength and safety as they faced this grueling challenge. They must have done a fine job, because I didn’t see anybody show up with serious injuries, and I didn’t hear any reports of injuries. Most of the runners seemed to be in good spirits, and those who were down when they arrived seemed to be much happier by the time they left. The worst claim we dealt with was a handful of runners who were experiencing symptoms of hypothermia. We let them sit in our cars and warm up if they needed it, and they all seemed to recover nicely.

At some point in the middle of the night, it came to me to write down all the quotes I could think of that had ever inspired me while I was running and hand them to the runners to tuck into their packs for when they were feeling discouraged. Kind of cheesy, but sometimes stuff like that helps; it’s kind of like opening your lunchbox and finding a note from your mom telling you she loves you. I had quotes from Mrs. Eddy (“We are all capable of more than we do,” for instance, which is one of my favorites), Bible verses, quotes from Richard Bach novels, and even a Chinese proverb often attributed to Confucius.

After each quote, I added a little note that said, “We’re behind you! God is with you! The finish line is ahead of you! You will make it!”

Some of the runners looked a little perplexed when I handed them their notes, but some of them were really appreciative. One guy asked me to write my e-mail address on there so he could e-mail me later. I got a very sweet note from him tonight. It seems he got one of the Richard Bach quotes, because he mentioned in his note that he loves Richard Bach — especially the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which I personally think ought to be required reading for distance runners.

During the night, there were several times when I thought of the lateness of the hour and started to be afraid I would run out of energy, but I kept reminding myself that God always supplies us with all the energy we need to take action to help somebody else. That’s not lip service; I really believe that with all my heart and have proven it more times than I can count.

As I was running through the darkness to meet a runner, I looked up at the stars — which were magnificent on such a clear, cold night — and suddenly thought about how blessed I was to be part of a historic event on my beloved Route 66, and how blessed I was to have the strength and the opportunity to express Love to a few of God’s children out there on that old highway. The thought was so beautiful that I almost cried. I felt strong and happy and didn’t get tired again all night.

Out of the 167 runners who actually started the race, 118 finished, and another 40 passed the 50-mile mark before they dropped out. That’s a 70.66 percent finish rate, and 94.61 percent of the runners made it to 50 miles. That’s not unheard-of in ultramarathoning (some of the really elite races have just a few runners, and they’ll end up with a 90 percent finish rate), but based on some online research I did, the average finish rate for a 100-mile race is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 percent, and I know there were quite a few inexperienced ultramarathoners running this one, so a 70 percent finish rate is pretty spectacular.

I met some really intriguing people (including one girl who was running her fourth 100-mile ultra in as many weeks) and had a lot of fun.

I don’t know whether that was the most amazing weekend of my entire life, but if it wasn’t, it didn’t miss it by much.

I hope your weekend was full of amazing blessings, too.


Craving peace

Something interesting happened last night.

I was on my way home from work, and I was thinking about this colossal list of stuff I needed to get done. One of the items on the list was, “Read old Sentinels and Journals.”

I had about a six-month backlog of issues I hadn’t finished reading. And in most cases, by “hadn’t finished,” I mean, “tossed them on the floor next to the bed and forgot about them for weeks.” So there were probably 25 magazines piled up next to my bed.

Since sitting around reading magazines feels more like relaxation than work, I put that near the bottom of my to-do list.

As I thought about all the other stuff on the list, I started to feel so overwhelmed that I decided maybe I’d just take myself out to dinner at my favorite restaurant — which is all the way over in Stroud, a good 40 miles away — and unwind before I tried to tackle all those projects. I do that a lot when I’m procrastinating. Being gone all evening is a great excuse to blow off housework.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I started to crave a particular food that is not available at my favorite restaurant — but is served at a fast-food place on the way home from work.

This was not a minor craving. This was a craving of epic proportions — one of those Must-Have-This-Now, Can’t-Think-About-Anything-Else-Until-I-Get-It sort of cravings. So I skipped the road trip to Stroud and hit a drive-through instead.

As I was pulling into the driveway and collecting my empty wrappers from the passenger’s seat, a thought came to me: Skip the rest of the to-do list and start with the magazines.

Last night was election night. Under normal circumstances, I’d have been doing housework with one eye on the television, worrying over the election returns as they came in.

But I didn’t do that last night. Instead, I listened to my instincts for once, set aside all those other projects, curled up on my papasan chair, and read five Sentinels cover-to-cover … and wouldn’t you know it? One of them was all about how to keep your thoughts and motives pure and avoid getting angry or stressed-out in the face of political situations.

It was 11:30 by the time I finished reading and decided to get ready for bed. I knew the election returns were probably in by that point, so I decided to get online and see what was going on.

I had the most profound sense of calm as I started surfing political sites in search of election results, and it occurred to me all at once that what I’d really been craving at dinner was not food, but peace.

That’s an order worth supersizing.


Laying aside every weight

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

— Heb. 12:1

I had every intention of running in the inaugural Route 66 Marathon this year, but for a variety of reasons, I was not able to make time in my schedule to train properly. I’ve run before on very little training, but I just haven’t been able to get into the right frame of mind this season … and as every marathoner knows, distance running is about the mind, not the body.

I personally believe that everything is about the mind, not the body (that’s pretty much the upshot of my faith as a Christian Scientist), but running makes that fact particularly clear.

I was having a hard time deciding what to do. I don’t believe in limitations, but at the same time, there’s a big difference between overcoming limitation and hurling yourself off a building. Increasingly, a marathon attempt this fall was feeling more and more like the latter.

I thought it over and prayed it over and waited for my answer.

It came this week, when my friend Lynda e-mailed me the other day to say that she had just completed a nine-mile training run. She wanted to know whether I thought she had enough training under her belt to finish a half-marathon in a couple of weeks. I assured her that she could certainly do it, and I told her I was thinking about scrapping the full marathon in favor of the half; if I did, I would certainly be happy to run with her to help keep her spirits up when she got out into uncharted waters.

A few hours later, I got an e-mail from another friend, who told me that Dan, a real sweetheart of a guy who ran with the Fleet Feet crew a couple of times last fall, is planning to run the Mother Road 100, a 100-mile ultramarathon down Route 66 commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Mother Road, and he needs pacers to run with him for an hour or two and keep his spirits up as he gets into the later miles.

My coach would have kittens if I told him I planned to do the Tulsa Run (a 15K) in the morning, run four to eight miles in the evening, and then attempt a marathon a week later. It’s just not considered wise to do so much in such a short frame of time, especially when you haven’t been running well all season.

But I got to thinking.

I thought about Dan. I thought about Lynda. I thought about why I run. I thought about why I wanted to run this particular race. And I realized something important:

When I run, my goal is to express good spiritual qualities, such as grace, strength, joy, and power. Hobbling across a finish line in tears or quitting in the middle won’t express any of that.

Up to this point, I’d thought that giving up and settling for a half-marathon instead of finishing a full wouldn’t express any of that, either … but I was mistaken.

This really is about my quality of thought. I know that if I really wanted to, I could complete all 26.2 miles through sheer stubbornness. After all, my pedigree includes Scottish, Irish, and German bloodlines … which makes me the human equivalent of a pit bull-rat terrier-English bulldog mix. Being hard-headed is my birthright.

But I already know how to be stubborn and willful. As a matter of fact, I have spent the past year or so trying to unlearn those traits.

Every marathon teaches a lesson, and this time around, I am supposed to be learning humility and selflessness. If I cast off pride and self-will and choose instead to let go of my own foolish goal, humble myself, and drop down from the full marathon to the half, I can help two dear people (both of whom have been very kind to me in the past) achieve their goals in the process.

And in doing that, I will have expressed grace, strength, joy, and power — which is why I run in the first place.

I don’t know what the next two weeks hold, but I know I am making the right decision, and there’s a blessing for me somewhere between here and the finish line. Probably lots of them.