14 May 2014

losing my religion, part 2

I've taken leave of my writing chair this afternoon, and relocated to the wonderland just outside my window.

A hot sun beats and warms my arms, my legs, a bright blue sky and the yoga deck beneath me. A chorus of birds sings around me, and together we're surrounded and kept by a lush and verdant fortress. Towering trees and freshly mowed grass swing and sway in a welcome breeze as it comes and blows. Even the space between my toes is damp with sweat. This afternoon, I feel like I'm in heaven. 

This morning I awoke to this glorious day, to thirst and to a ravenous hunger to run. I reached for my Ipod on my way out the door, but discovered it was dead. I considered waiting for it to charge, but this beautiful day beckoned, so I left my Ipod behind. 

I used to run without music frequently, then periodically. But over the last several years my Ipod has become my constant, chatty running companion. It took a while to settle into my run this morning without it. I felt a little out of sorts as I willed my legs to wake up and to shake off the gravity of last night's sleep. But I found my rhythm and tasted the sweet spot when running becomes meditative, timeless and effortless -- when I feel light on my feet, like I could run forever. 

I haven't felt that way in a while. 

I have moved into the shade of a climbing Wisteria in the heavenly heat and beauty of this afternoon on my yoga deck. The sun is relentless, and I've been sitting here -- delighting in the rustle of leaves and the sweet soundtrack of Spring  -- for hours. A part of me wishes time would stand still, that all would be as peaceful and pleasant and simple as this. But the kids will return home from school soon with their backpacks and stories and hunger and volume. I teach tonight, and rain is in this weekend's forecast. 

The two rules I ran by in the past were 1.) I would get up and go no matter what, and 2.) I wouldn't stop to walk once I began. Eventually, I grew weary and tired of this; what had once been magical for me became mechanical, and I couldn't keep up. I ached for a slower, milder, different pace. So I slowed way down, and pulled way back and it felt good. I felt good. I stopped running all together for nearly a year, and I began to walk instead. I noticed details I'd run right past hundreds of times before. And it wasn't until I stopped running and pushing so damn hard, that I discovered how glorious a walk -- especially one smack dab in the middle of a run -- can be. 

I remember why I started running back in college in the first place: to lose weight. But somewhere along the way, while I was training for my first marathon, that all faded away. Sitting here on my yoga deck, I'm reminded why I kept running, why I stopped and why I've started once again. I'm reminded why I bask in the sunshine, why I raised my hands and wept in church, in a valley and on a mountain top, why I pray, and why I write: because in so doing, I have stumbled in and out of a sweet spot, where rules, ritual and religion have give way to freedom, love, grace and into the arms of God. 

This morning, I ran and walked and ran and walked, and I listened. 

I heard the songs of birds, the buzzing of bees, the breath of breezes blowing past me, the crunch of my feet on the road, the labor, then ease of my breath, the thunder of a truck driving by, the hum of the highway, the rhythm of my beating heart... I was unplugged, but tapped into something other -- to a different pace and a different rhythm. 

All of this reminds me of my faith.

Something remarkable has occurred in my life as I have turned down the volume of religion. As I have traveled these last few years without the constant companionship and perpetual noise of church and bible study, of small groups and devotionals, I have become unhinged, unplugged and unsure. I hear my breath and my heart beat, and I feel -- alive. 

From time to time I hear the rhythm, the hum and the timbre of something subtle and so sweet. A breeze. A still, small voice. It whispers, Come to me, and beckons me to stay. To rest. To walk for a while. I'm swept into a timeless serenity where there are no words. There is no beginning, and there is no end. And I want to stay there forever...


Anonymous said...

My body craves variety too. I totally get the mechanical aspect of working out and can see how this translates to other areas of our lives.
You are such a beautiful writer Abi. I love checking in on your life while also getting my fill of your writing talent. I can totally see you sitting in the sun. I've also been there with my iPod out of battery... it sucks at first and then you lock into and connect with nature. Ive recently been listening to podcasts while working out which I love. xo

Abi T. said...

Thank you for checking in and reading and for encouraging and for commenting.