I’d been thinking about an exercise a good friend told me about. He encouraged me to draw a picture of “the way things are” – an attempt to render what my life really feels like right now. Not what I think I want it to feel like or what others may think it's like; no, the way things are. I got my picture yesterday a.m.
I went for a run about 5:30 out on the trail. I immediately noticed the wind at my back. Nice. Establish a good pace and let the wind carry you on. I usually run to a turn around point and then, obviously, turn around. Not nice. As I turned, it was like suddenly being harnessed to a covered wagon full of women and children and supplies and a dog with a bum leg. And then it hit me. The way things are.
That’s what I’ve been feeling most of the summer and even today; running into a headwind. I have a strong desire to finish, but my legs and lungs and heart are screaming for me to stop. Yesterday, I tried everything I could think of to try and finish. I tried to zen-run and focus on my breathing, tried singing some songs (put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking out the door), even tried whipping up some anger to boost me the last leg (thought about televangelists and such). Try, try, try. About half a mile from the house, I had to stop and walk, I couldn’t finish running. It was just too much. I hate that, feels like failure. I had even prayed, about 100 yards prior to that stopping moment, asking for some assistance. Jesus, please help me. But it didn’t work. I wasn't praying for a personal best or anything, just the strength to finish.
On the commute in to work, I put in an Ennio Morricone disc. One of those wise people that everybody quotes says that only pain and beauty can transform us. I was hoping that some of his haunting music would crack me open; I had noticed a hardening ever since the run. Actually, for days. I listened to the music from the films The Mission and Once Upon a Time in the West. And the rock cracked. And water gushed forth. I began to weep.
Weeping for how damn hard it is some days or weeks or months and how heavy the weight feels and how much it hurts and how sincerely I want to finish. Weeping for how hard I try and put on a happy face and steel myself against the way things are and answer, "Fine. How are you?" when people greet me. Weeping for words like Jesus and please and help and how empty they sometimes feel.
I’m not sure anymore about the prayers of a righteous man availing much. I know, I know - the Word says, but those words are losing all their letters by the time they reach my heart and lungs and legs. It seems all I've got right now are the tears of a marginally righteous man. I don't write this for your pity - ohmygod, John's losing heart or man, you're depressed - you should see somebody. I write this to say this is the way things are, for me, for now. I'm walking. I've cracked a little. I'm weeping. Maybe that avails for something. Not much, but something.