With Gratitude – How Running Became Praying

I hovered over the morning news longer than usual. Suspending the last spoonful of breakfast in the air as I took in just one more paragraph…slowly.

While getting dressed I took the rabbit trail of reorganizing my shirts, hanging them by like kind: plaid, solid, long-sleeved, short-sleeved… – taking a couple off their hangers and slipping them into the Goodwill bag.

Finally dressed I announced to Becky and two kids reading at the kitchen table, “I’m off to run. Be back in a little while.” Then I got a drink of water and checked Twitter while I sipped it. Retweet. Reply. Retweet.

Ten minutes later…”I thought you were going,” Becky nudged.

“Is there anything you need me to do?” I asked.

“On your way home you could…”

I leisurely cruised the recreation center parking lot for a closer spot and when I eventually found it I slipped the van into park and listened to the rest of an uninteresting interview with some athlete I’ve never heard of who plays a sport I’ve never even watched.

With a sigh I slipped the keys from the ignition and muttered a prayer of sorts. “I hate this.”

Then a slumping mosey to the building full of moms in yoga pants on treadmills and young men lifting in front of mirrors at mid-morning.

I opened the door and she smiled way up at me. One knobby hand curled around the head of her cane, shaking slightly as she liiiiifted and inched it forward. I stood aside, the door against my back, taking in her details – orthopedic shoes, turned knee, speckled hands, humped back.

“Thank you, young man.”

Her thick-soles slid through invisible molasses, one past the other. Patiently, she shuffled by me in slow motion and out into the cold wind, thankfully patting me with one hand as she went.

Inside, I climbed the stairs to the track, stretched and ran – no easier, no faster, no more graceful than usual. But more grateful.

Shoes pounded the track, thumping out a prayer: Thank you for legs that can. Amen.