I have always done my best thinking when I am running on a path through the woods. Preparing for our journey to Africa has been no different. Sometimes when I am running, it is muddy, sweaty, dirty, up hill work. At other times, the temperature is perfect, there are no obstacles, and my lungs and legs encourage me to run forever.
I ran my final run on my favorite trail in the Cleveland MetroParks system a couple of weeks ago. It did not disappoint. It was a muggy morning, but not sweltering. The trail was quiet, as it was early in the day. I started my run on the bike trail. This smooth path reminds me of those days where everything is pretty mundane and predictable. I wake up early to have a few moments to myself and pay homage to my coffee cup. The kids will undoubtedly “need me” as there will be butts to wipe, meals to prepare, band-aids to administer, redirection to dictate, and love to fill in the gaps in between. This is a usual day, comfortable because it runs within the boundaries and rhythms of what I am use to.
About a half mile in, on my morning workout, I made a break for the bridal trail, my haven of peace in the bustle of our house moving preparations. The bridle trail is a little more unpredictable. This trail, of course, is shared by horses that go poo…. wherever. I have days that can relate to this too, unmet expectations with family, friends, and complete strangers driving in front of me on the freeway. Relationships can get stinky sometimes and if we are real with one another, they get messy too. I actually like messy. (except in my son’s room) Messy leaves room for cleaning up, it makes room for grace, it invites a good scrub and new ideas on how to organize how we do things so that next time maybe things will come out a bit better.
That days run was a familiar one, but there have been times when I am out on the trails, that I take a wrong turn, leading to a longer run, with possible backtracking, mud on my shoes, scratches on my legs, and twigs in my hair. These have led me to a horse pasture, a fenced off section of the airport, running neck in neck with a skunk (he finally veered right), and usually wondering if I would ever find my way out of the woods. I have real days like this too, the ones where I don’t feel like I am making any “real” progress. For my mom-hood life this looks like making attempts at organizing underwear drawers, staring at crayon marks on the carpet that no-one is claiming, hosting the same conversation with my son about why putting the lid down is a good choice, or a slew of other things that feel super serious in the moment, but may not really have a super galactic impact on the world….just on my sanity.
Where might the comfortable, unpredictable, backtracking, real life trail lead too? Well, for me, it eventually led to faith in something other than myself. Being a disciple of Christ, has shed light onto some of the shadows of my wrong turns. Being someone who believes in who the Bible proclaims Jesus is, eventually led to the discovery of a freedom found only in Him. When I read 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here, I can grasp the importance of where I have been because it has led to who and where I currently am. And you know what, I would happily run that path again, poo covered and all.