For the Living of These Days—A Word from Jim England

Both a question and a statement relate to running and pandemic. The question is “where’s the finish line?” The statement I overheard at the beginning of the mini-marathon, “I can’t believe how bad I’m going to feel in two hours.” Both reflect my impatience and concern.

Most of my running is in my own neighborhood. I have mapped out routes for distance and hills. Trees, bridges and hills divide up the routes and I know how far I have to go and what to expect.

I do not know how far we have to go with this pandemic nor all that we will encounter along the way. This endurance race has no markers familiar to me. I know that running the race differs from training. A crowded field inhibits the start. The course in unfamiliar. I hear myself asking “where is the finish line?” It’s always further than I thought, and harder. I recall a race at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Nevada. We got wrong information about the starting line. By the time we got to the starting line, I could see a pack of runners half a mile into the race already. I started the race way behind and angry. My hopes and expectations for this race were gone. It took me a mile or so to start accepting what was not planned and realize I could run a leisurely pace and take in the beauty of this desert park. That changed the race.

The view of this virus litters our landscape with its ugliness—soaring numbers, hospital overload, isolation. I am angry about all that. Yet, I find I need to accept reality that is far different than what I hope for. I need to slow my pace and see the beauty all about me. Family, neighbors, store personnel and people easy to overlook when I am keeping a frantic pace. I have time to see people and listen to music. I have time so prayers are not rushed. I have time to see the chalk art on the sidewalks where children have worked at messages of kindness. I have time to reflect and contemplate and see the courageous beauty of so many revealed in a time of great stress. I have time to find a balance.