Wednesday, July 29, 2015
A Country Morning Run
I am reading a book that won a Pulitzer Prize. I am more comfortable with lazy reads, something about a boxer's brutal battles or a slugger's heroic home runs. The Pulitzer Prize winning book is lofty and heady and amazing. I enjoy the read. I'm not certain that I should enjoy it, as if people who read Bleacher Report are not permitted to gaze at such grand literature. The words from the Pulitzer Prize winner's pen are elegant and provocative. She writes of a season in the woods and nature shaping everything spiritual. I read it slowly. I'm stalled by some words that I don't recognize. I don't know whether to stop and find the definition of the unknown word or whether I should just continue reading. Most of the time, I just continue reading, as if stopping will reveal my ignorance to someone unseen. When I visit the library, I don't ask for help either. It's as though asking for help will uncover my sparse library attendance and the library folk will peer over the tops of their Pulitzer Prize winning books and stare me out of the building. Sometimes, I pretend.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Roger Federer sustains greatness, in part, because he is such a good loser. He reflects on defeat only for a moment to draw out any valuable lesson and then he simply moves forward. Tom Perrotta writes, "It isn’t uncommon for a tennis champion to master the art of losing. A player who dwells on defeats puts both confidence and ambition at risk." Federer, he argues, is uniquely different. The wins and losses do not define him. He plays his game and carries on. There is no need to pretend or to dwell on regret. He just shows up and does the work, playing the game before him.
Running is my therapy. During a recent morning jog, I turned the corner of a country road and arrived at the simply miraculous. The landscape framed a tractor sitting in a freshly cut field to one side and the overgrowth yet to be cut on the other, work completed and work to be done. The sun had risen just above the hillside, igniting the morning dew into works of fire, the tops of the blades of grass glimmering and flickering as if it had been timed for my viewing with a cosmic countdown to launch. It was a God moment, to be sure. Him, not audibly speaking to me in a James Earl Jone's tone, but awakening my heart with a thought. God reminded me that the field is His, these endless seasons of planting, growing, and harvesting all orchestrated by a Grand Design. The farmer, different with each generation, shows up daily for the task. The farmer tills, the Creator produces. As I ran further, I smelled a country breakfast wafting from the farmhouse. The farmer would be getting back to the work in the field only after beginning the day with his family gathered. God reminded me, there is a time to till the fields, there is a time to gather with those beloved, and all time is for sharing. I couldn't create that moment. God gave me a scene beyond the most extravagant artists rendering and a message that resonated deep. It's as if He said, "All of this is mine. These fields. This life. I am authoring a story greater than you can dream. You are not the writer. Yon only need to awake, gather, and tend to the field that's put in front of you today. There is no need to pretend. Don't let the wins and losses, the bountiful harvests, nor the lean seasons define you. Life is not a race or an emergency. You are a part of My Story, not the other way around. This moment is for you. Stop running and smile. You are mine, completely defined, loved, and known. Be with me in this extraordinary supernatural country morning setting, my son. Breathe deeply. When you are ready, let's continue this run together, not missing any of these moments along the way."