Running as Spiritual Purgation

Thoughts constantly streaming through my already over-crowded mind have threatened to overcome me.  Yesterday I honored brokenness and beauty, feeling both inside me, acknowledging their presence.  After I wrote the previous entry, I stretched my legs and embarked on a 13-mile run to purge the rising emotions welling up within.  Stamping out the irrational fears and obsessions onto the pavement, I cleared a path for some genuine emotion.  The more room I give these fears, the less room for what is most important in my life; and the less room there is in my heart to be a genuine and compassionate person.  With the motion of running I literally stamped fear, loneliness, anger, confusion, jealousy, and alienation into the pavement; I made room for grief, self-love, and healing.

The 13-mile run was not the smartest thing to do.  Already evening, I had not eaten a proper lunch and a week had already passed since the last time I had run.  Nevertheless, my endurance and strong will carried me through.  Recovery, however, took longer than usual, as my body was weakening and in need of immediate sustenance.   That physical and mental emptying broke open a floodgate that needed to be opened…and today I begin to sort through and write about the rush of water swiftly passing around me.

I hope to engage with them all in the coming days and weeks, some I hope to write about.

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on breaking free from fears

This morning I went on a run with a friend, a nice loop of about 6 or seven miles. It was an interesting run on a not-so-interesting morning blanketed by gray stratus clouds. Back at home, blissfully enjoying the post-run endorphin high, I engaged with my heart. But the bliss soon wore off, leaving a vacancy for something more somber. Something I have noticed lately is a joyful life, with much to be thankful for and bathed in laughter and shared time with good friends. And yet, a great paradox exists as I am deeply lonely; even in the midst of comfortable company, I find a sadness in my soul. I find solace in the music of Evanescence and Linkin Park, whose music and lyrics embody intense emotional wounds that speak to me. So….for me…such joy, such love of life…and such sadness…brokenness. And I’m not the only one.

Furthermore, inside my spirit is fear. In addition to joy and love of life, I have an array of possibilities before me as I prepare to receive my master’s degree. Enter the fear. This is by no means an abnormal fear to have–but looking deeper, I really am afraid: Afraid to leave (Seattle, my friends, my community). Afraid to stay here…fear wants to tell me to run away because it’s easier, I won’t have to deal with the complexities of relationality. And more…

All this was flowing through my head as I sat down to read for my class on spiritual discernment. Ha, what fun…here I am lost in the midst of deep inner feelings, and my homework is right in line, a huge help for both spirit and studies. So here I am…doing what I do, and doing what I help other people do…discerning. Sometimes it’s a bit much and I’m thankful for friends to bring me back to life, back to reality with laughter and shared conversation.

I know I have courage and a strong spirit. Now is the time to summon up that inner strength, the sort of courage only known from experiencing pain and brokenness. It seasons my life, never quite disappearing, yet sometimes remaining beneath the surface of my being. So here I go…I dive into the waters and go with the swift flow of the river in hopes that my courage will carry me through.

And here, when can I reach this place in my spirit, I am free. Although loneliness and fear are present, I am not bound to them and I do not have to hide my brokenness. I can however, break free from their distortions to engage more deeply with life and learn to love more deeply.   As my friend and I ran this morning, we pondered potential names for what I’d name a spiritual direction practice if I had one: I am free to be broken…

God help me to find the courage to face these fears and break free from them!