Wednesday, November 25, 2009

santa creeps me out

so, here's the picture. i am playing the role of barista at my local, neighborhood, non-profit, coffee shop on thanksgiving eve when in walks santa, mrs. claus, and their children. seriously. the man was obviously a santa impersonator. (is that the right word for a santa? i mean, if someone dresses up like elvis, aren't they an elvis impersonator? anyway.) so the claus family is hanging out when santa decides it is time to engage the barista, ie, me. as this gentleman is talking to me, the whole time i cannot focus on anything other than the fact that he looks like santa claus. then, (hold for dramatic pause) the conversation turns into a diatribe about how no one really practices true christianity anymore. the irony that these words were coming from the mouth of (a) santa was not lost on me. apparently, real christianity means telling all homosexuals that they are going to straight to hell, and not allowing women to participate in ministry. who knew????? those of you who know me would be proud, i guess. i still have holes in my tongue where my teeth bit straight through. i smiled and nodded and silently prayed for he and his family to leave as soon as was humanly possible. i am very vocal when it comes to these topics. especially, the women in ministry thing. i have in the past wrestled with the words of the apostle paul and in time made my peace. (thank you, dr. coppins. and thank you morna hooker for your illuminations regarding the first century context, but i digress...) anyway, as i was working in the coffee shop attached to my church and thus a representative of the above, i was not at liberty to, how should i put it? engage in lively banter.

my story does have a point. sort of. at least a point that makes sense to me. and it involves another rabbit trail. (i will understand if you decide to stop reading now...) i am not a fan of christmas. really never have been. call me a scrooge, grinch, whatever. i know that so many people look forward to december 25th. i look forward to december 26th. truly i do. i love january 1 even more. but this year, as i have tried so many times before, i have decided to be intentional about embracing AND enjoying the christmas season. i intend to deck the halls, kiss my husband under some mistletoe, and contemplate the meaning of the birth that is celebrated this time of year. i want to celebrate this next few weeks as genuinely and authentically as possible. i have to tell you. no offense meant to mr. claus, but he is not the kind of authentic i am looking for. i am pretty confident that i don't roll with santa's kind of christmas.
i am happily observing that, as i saw happen with thanksgiving, people are focusing on what is really important this year. family. friends. helping others. and being thankful for what we have. not what we 'need'. i don't know about you. (other than the fact that i could stand to be gainfully employed...) i know very few people who really need anything, myself included. i was talking with my aunt pam the other day. we were discussing how hard things have become, financially, for so many. we were discussing the fact that someone i know is losing their house to foreclosure this month. and pam said that even though things were bad, she hated to complain. she was still so very fortunate. she told me that she had never watched her children go hungry, let alone starve to death. she had always been able to buy her children medicine when they were sick. and no one in her family has ever had to sleep on the floor of a mud hut. you get the picture. i am grateful for pam and her perspective. christmas will be over on december 26th. it is my hope that i will carry this perspective of gratitude and an understanding of what i 'need' with me well into 2010 and beyond. a very merry christmas and happy holiday to everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

i miss my trail

i miss my trail. i am not quite sure how this has happened. well, actually i do know why i haven't made it out to do any trail runs, lately. between flooding at the park, sports activities for the kids, and trips out of town, it has been a matter of fitting it in on the treadmill or simply doing what lots of runners do; put on my shoes and walk out my front door (i'm not a fan of either). so, to get to a trail requires planning ahead and travel. (i am always good for a road trip. it's the planning ahead that seems to vex me.) my favorite place to run is little mulberry park in gwinnett county, ga about 35 minutes away from my house. while i'm out there i simply cannot believe that these secluded woods are in the middle of such a hectic place.

so, i have been running, just not where i would prefer. today i was on my treadmill about 2.5 miles into my run when it happened... that happy place for me where my running feels good. my body gets going. my breathing and foot strikes are in a hypnotic rhythm. and there are some killer tunes on my ipod. before you know it i am doing the 'thankful thing'. those who have run with me have witnessed this crazy little ode to joy that erupts from my soul. i start thanking jesus for my lungs and my heart. i thank jesus that my legs and feet have carried me this far. and then i thank jesus for the trees. on occasion, i have even been know to stop and hug one or two most unsuspecting, very stately, trees. i always take them by surprise. but they always, most graciously, hug back. trees have good manners. especially, in the south.

but today, there were no trees to hug. there are no trees in my basement. just things that are counterproductive to my running like a tv, comfy chairs, and a bar. running for me is more than exercise. it is a chance for me to connect to god. my version of god anyway. when i run i talk to god; my own jesus of the trail. much like ricky bobby in 'talladega nights', i have my own version of what jesus looks and acts like. while, ricky bobby's favorite version was the "baby jesus", my jesus of the trail is a combination of sayid from lost and mary catherine gallagher's jesus from the movie 'superstar', a la will ferrel. so, the jesus i meet on the trail has an amazing sense of humor! we laugh at ourselves. well, this is usually a time when i laugh at myself. ( i think jesus would laugh at himself, but i am not willing to risk blasphemy and say for certain that he does.) while i love running, it is often a struggle for me. sometimes, especially if it has been a while since my last run, it can be a time when i want to beat myself up for something that i did or didn't do. like kicking myself for holding onto the childhood notion that mac n cheese counts a vegetable or the very adult notion that sangria is it's own food group. ( i make sangria with mangoes and raspberries, copious amounts of nutritional value are represented here). laughing at myself keeps the mood light and reminds me that beating myself up is a really bad habit. and my trail jesus knows me well. he shows me grace. after all, running is a learning process with grace at its core.

so, i said all of that to say this: i need to get back to my trail. i need to fall into that hypnotic rhythm that comes from the combination of my breath and foot strikes. i miss my trees. i need to hug them and have them hug me back. i miss my trail.