I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV1. Running - I started running seriously during my second year at Luther Seminary, when I was so heavy (270 lbs and a 40-inch waist) that I had to start by running three minutes and walking two. Over time I began to get past worrying that I was going to pass out and to really enjoy going for a run to relieve stress. A year later, running helped me keep a modicum of sanity through divorce and an internship that changed drastically due to my supervisor being called up as an Air Force chaplain following the destruction of the World Trade Center. In the space of that first 18 months of running, I lost 90 lbs and 8 inches off my waist. I'm up a bit from that now, but I ran my first marathon last May and plan to run another this spring. Even though my knees often ache and I've had a tough time keeping energy levels high since Ainsley's birth, I still love to run.As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.
For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.
2. Music - Music has been my constant companion my whole life long. I long ago decided (as if I had any choice) that if I were to lose any of my senses, the one I could least afford to lose would be hearing - how Beethoven managed it is beyond me. I have eclectic tastes; right now I'm running to Celtic & Folk, but I love jazz, rock, classical, even some country (the Dixie Chick's album Taking The Long Way is incredible, for example, and I've already blogged here about my love for all things Statler Brothers). Luther is rumored to have said, "He who sings, prays twice." If it ain't true, it oughta be.
3. Reading - Again, a constant companion that can refresh my soul. For America Reads a few weeks ago, I was invited to read to an 8th grade homeroom by a good friend, so I grabbed my copy of The Hobbit and read a goodly portion of chapter 1. I also brought the books I've read this year; they were impressed. There's nothing better than a free afternoon/evening with good coffee, a good book and good music on the stereo. Well, nothing better that you can do by yourself, that is.
4. Yardwork - With spring arriving here in Minnesota, my seasonal affections are changing. If this were December, I would have said Baking, but it's soon time to get the mower & rake & potting soil ready for another year. I'm starting a garden this year and very excited to see if we can actually grow edible food. Homemade salsa, anyone?
5. Family Time - Last night, Beloved and I got Ainsley down in her crib at the end of Grey's Anatomy, then we watched the tape of Wednesday's Survivor episode. But the best part of the day, for me, was the ten minutes of conversation we had in bed before we went to sleep. I'm amazed that I can still enjoy talking with my wife after being together, both dating and marriage, over four years. I love planning things around "our family" instead of just my own schedule. Perhaps the source of my joy is the delayed gratification aspect: I wanted to be a parent as early as possible, but had to wait until I was 32. Regardless, Family Time, no matter how it happens, is a source of great joy for both of us - even on days like today, when AJ was an absolute pill at the office and I was forced to bring her home. We're together; that's the important thing.
PS: In regard to great music, I want to plug Marc Gunn's Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and his latest compilation album, "Victims of Irish Music." Marc promotes small, mostly independent artists and has an interesting biweekly podcast. You'll find a link under the "Music Links" section on the right. And, as always, you can't go wrong with Storyhill or The Wild Clover Band!