Sunday, March 27, 2011

Running in Circles

If you don't live in northern California you may not be aware of the pounding we've received lately from a string of unrelenting storms. We've already lost part of our fence and when I asked Phil last week if he knew the location of our trash can, he replied, "We put it away."

"We did?"

"You did, right?"


One more quick survey of the street revealed it's location - four houses down, across the street, lid open, lying in the wet gutter - GOAL.

We're all wet up here. I guess I'm telling you this because it's been nearly impossible to get outside and complete my training for my upcoming half marathon run/walk. Last week, I threw caution to the wind, literally and trained outside despite the elements. I think I mentioned my response to that decision on my Facebook status. Pelted with wind and rain, freezing my ears off, with several miles to go, I felt overcome by the intimate and intense peace of God.

This week, I tried a more, er...creative training method. I woke up and remembered that our local mall opens early for walkers. Why not train inside this week? I don't know the distance of a lap around the big place, but I have a fairly good sense of my fifteen minute mile. This week I had to complete seven of those suckers. After calling the Galleria to confirm that they do indeed host walkers in the morning, I made my decision and was off.

What a strange way to train! I found myself circling the mall, virtually alone, with the exception of the occasional low-spirited security guard or members of the cleaning crew peppered throughout the building buffing and scrubbing, no doubt in anticipation of the day's crowds.

The strangest part of this experience? During my run, I felt this uncanny sense of expedited window shopping. As the theme from Rocky trumpeted through my headphones, I raced past the glossy pink mannequins of Wet Seal (It's so hard now) past the cloud-like poofs of Pottery Barn Kids' Beatrix Potter quilts (getting strong now), Popcornopolis now in my rear view, (gonna fly), pondering the mosquito netting-like cylindrical lamps above the food court, (FLY) and back around to that Nordstrom's pleated skirt (FLY! Bah, bah, BAH!)

I thought about efforts. All my efforts. The mall is a funny place. In the right context, it can offer the same spiritual reflective space as a cloister. As I struggled to complete seven miles with some semblance of grace, I thought about the things for which we all strive. The mall stands as a haunting symbol of society's efforts to possess the Pottery Barn, Express, Nordstrom's, Gap life. I am no exception and too often fall victim to this great illusion, but on this morning - in these moments, I also found great irony in the emptiness of our palatial mall. It was just a little glimpse, but a penetrating one for me.

Cease striving and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10