I Jogged 6 Miles Today

March 5, 2008

I don’t know why but the sweat pouring over my eyeballs burned the bags under my eyes while jogging today. I ran the first four miles and felt really good, so I figured it was a convenient time to expand my recent goals to go farther, though I could never do another four miles. I went for two more miles.

So now that I can do 6 miles! Now instead of doing 2 miles a day I’ll up my minimum to 4 miles a day.

Jogging has become an external symbol for an internal change I’ve been going through. Some call it a mid-life crisis. Some blame it on me quitting smoking. It’s important that I keep up these interlocking disciplines; go to bed at 10pm, no smoking, cut back on alcohol, exercise, go easy on the sweets and carbohydrates and seek my wife and my God.

I don’t know how these things are tied together but it was never enough to just try to quit smoking by itself. I’ve pursued God for most of my life but nothing like this. Now I feel supercharged, jogging for miles when I couldn’t get out of bed last year. It’s not about getting healthy either, I care as much about my health as I did last year when I smoked, drank and ate a fourth fast food meal most days.

This year, the mental has met the physical. There’s a fist-fight going on inside me and once I decided to jog, that was it–I knew I had the strength to quit smoking. Once I quit smoking I knew I had the power to fall on my face before God. I knew I could make my marriage better than it’s been in seventeen years. I knew I could do the dishes.

External ritual has become more important than ever. I’ve always found Communion my favorite all-time ritual. I can’t imagine more meaning, importance and restoration coming from simple grape juice and crackers. I think long ago, Christ knew he was dealing with a generally forgetful, stupid church so He commanded us to take communion saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

My four year old son, Edward, was named after every Ed in my life. The first being my father, once my greatest enemy, now my best friend. My father’s father is named Ed and is still a black-sheep of the family. So my son also has the name of my father’s enemy. My best friend’s name is Edward Schofield. He is one of the greatest men I know and is closer than a brother. So calling my son “Edward” is dense with meaning, a promise of greatness and a warning against tragedy all in one.

Anyways, I took my son to his Catholic Preschool he attends (no, we aren’t Catholic) and he showed me how he usually prays with his mom in the chapel before attending class. I asked him, “I don’t know how you and mom pray. Can you show me what you do?”

Edward grabbed my hand and ran me around the side of a sanctuary where we walked into an empty gothic room. He pointed to a little cup mounted to the wall, “That’s where they keep the holy water.” I don’t know if I did the ritual correctly and I hope I’m not alerting the mechanizations of the Holy Catholic church as I write this, but I lifted Edward so he could dunk his fingers into the water. Then I put in my fingers.

Edward did something weird with his hands…I think he was trying to cross himself but kind of mangled the order of things. I did some reading about crossing oneself a few years ago so I did my best by standing behind him and holding Ed’s and putting it up on his forehead, “This is because Christ is in our mind and because he was up on the cross.” Then I moved his fingers down over his chest, “This is because Christ is in our heart and because he went down into the grave.” Then we moved his fingers to his left shoulder, “He rose from the grave.” Then we ended by tapping his right shoulder, “Then the Holy Spirit came to us.”

We proceed up the middle aisle of the dark sanctuary, tiny, stained-glass windows and a few lit candles light the way to the front row. Edward kneels, closes his eyes and folds his hands so I did the same. Then silence.

My son doesn’t like to pray. My family says grace before every meal and everyone takes a turn, but not Ed. At night, we pray with all of the kids before they go to bed and Ed doesn’t close his eyes and generally doesn’t care what I say during prayers. He’s so obsessed with trains that if I pray for trains he’ll listen, but he’s not praying, he’s making sure I say the parts of the train correctly: “God we pray for the boiler, the sand dome, the cattle-pusher on the trains of the world.”

So I was taken aback when Edward prayed in the sanctuary today, “God, thank you for this day.” I was quick to pray along, “Yes God, you made the day and you did a good job of it!”

We offered up a 30 second prayer and Edward didn’t once mention trains in his prayer. I think it’s because of the Catholic-ness of the sanctuary that helped my son connect with God. We eat dinner all the time at the table and sleep all the time in bed, so it’s not a place we go specifically to pray. But we only go to this sanctuary to pray. Dipping fingers into holy water and crossing ourselves are also physical, external rituals that help the human mind grasp an internal work.

I jogged 6 miles today.


10 Responses to “I Jogged 6 Miles Today”

  1. Bob McGowan Says:

    “and when I run I feel His pleasure”……Eric Liddell

  2. Nev Says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Great blog posts Doug.

  3. robbie Says:

    Incense does it to me. Catholicism certainly has some sensuality to it.

  4. Debbie Nystrom Says:

    As I read this today, the closed throat, I think I’m gonna cry feeling is what I am left with. Maybe it is the memories that it brings back, the summer evening sun pouring through the stained glass memories of the church in Turlock, which always seemed to invoke a spirit of prayer in me. Maybe it was the honest moment that you experienced with your son. Moments like that are fleeting and should be as proudly held and described as you have done. Who knows maybe it was only because I too love trains.

  5. Tom Bancroft Says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. I have 4 girls, but that “first” spiritual moment you have were you hear your child trying to communicate with the Lord is unforgettable!

  6. Neil Says:

    Right on, buddy. Keep up the jogging. After a while you WILL NOT BE ABLE to stop. I started it a few years ago to get in shape and since then, my entire physique has changed along with my eating habits; I’ve never felt better, physically, in my life. I agree with the spiritual reminders concept, sometimes I completely forget the things that are most important in life.

  7. Achoo Says:

    I would say this is my favorite blog but its too hard to choose between all of your past blogs. We’ll just say its my favorite blog today. I have a couple people who need to read this.

  8. Jim Bernardin Says:

    Hey Doug,

    Thoroughly enjoyed this entry. Having a four year old son myself, I can relate. There’s a sweetness and sincerity in those little guys that can make you pause and be grateful.

    Liked what you said about ES. . .couldn’t agree more.

    By the way, we’re big Catscratch fans around here. One of our approved shows!

  9. Orion Says:

    Be careful when you increase your mileage like that. It was definitely better that you didn’t go for the full eight miles. Tendonitis can really screw up all the carefully cultivated habits of running.

    As for Earthworm Jim: loved the television series, thought the video game was too hard. No idea about anything like comics. I was a kid… sue me.

  10. Ryan Says:

    I enjoy smoking. But, different people have different experiences. I enjoy running, too, but not as much as smoking. It’s funny how much of an antithesis this web log is to an aspect of my life, yet has very peculiar parallels in beliefs. Then again, I’m could just be another a loser misinterpreting your words.

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