If you like to run, what are your routines for run prep? Stretching? Coffee? Mapping out your run? What if running could strengthen your soul as much as your body? How do you prep for that?
Okay, so maybe this isn’t the blog you were expecting from your pastor. I know this topic may feel niche, but even if you aren’t the “running type,” I invite you into an exercise to expand your perspective of the ordinary aspects of your life. Life with God is an adventure that predominantly dwells in the riches of the mundane, and there are few things that remind us of our ordinary, earthy existence like a morning run. The body is cranking sweat out of every pore. Muscles, joints, lungs, and heart are burning. The spirit seems to grow silent at the screaming of the body.
And yet, what if this is one of the ways God meets us? What if the joy at the end of a run doesn’t merely have to be a dopamine hit, but a moment of embodied encounter with God? Would we be ready? Do we even have to be ready for it to be true?
I wonder if some of the greatest acts of cultivating our attention toward God’s always-and-forever presence is not merely by rehearsing good ideas but rather by entering recurring prayers. What if the same way we put on the same shoes for a daily run, we prayed the same prayer, slowly allowing our souls to mold into its repetition? What would we notice about God? What would we notice in ourselves? Who would we become mile by mile?
For those who run or walk, for those who have been meaning to run or walk, for those who want to care for their bodies and souls, I wrote a prayer that opens our eyes when we open our strides. May this prayer be a resource for the Holy Spirit, leveraging your senses to better feel your run with God.
A LITURGY FOR
An early morning run
This prayer is best when coupled with the physical act of putting on running shoes, paying attention to the well-designed grip of the shoe on each foot and the tightness of the laces.
Lord, you have crafted these toes reaching out from these feet connected to these ankles,
syncing with calves, knees and hips to run as you move all of me. Today I join the wind, a sacrament of your invisible presence gracing these quiet streets.
As I run, may I remember I was made to run with you.
Not ahead—as if I could leave you behind
Nor behind—as if I must try to catch up.
The syncopated in—hale, ex—hale with each mid-foot strike
a reminder of your Spirit kissing my soul,
The sunrise and her shadows a reminder that you, Lord Christ, hold it all together,
The sound of birds, the reminder that the Father’s eye is on the soaring sparrow.
May my run be an act of devoted attention,
Not an escape from your world
But a seeing service in the world.
awaken my heart
passing in front of homes exhausted by an erratic world
while aching for homeless trampled by the world
awaken my mind
listening to podcasts, books, music,
and praying prayers with the world.
awaken my hands
surrendering what I must carry to be ok
freed to wave at each day laborer for the world.
God, in this early hour, I run with you,
and I know you are with me
closer than these well crafted shoes
each step of the way.
For more prayers in this vein written by others around various ordinary aspects of life, check out the amazing resource, Every Moment Holy.