“The death of self is marked with scars.” – Shannan Martin
One good thing about keeping all of my race bibs is that I can take a stroll down Memory Lane anytime I want.
Curious to know exactly how many marathons I have run since 2005, I searched for all of my marathon bibs and came across this one from Steamtown Marathon, my very first. Seeing it brought back a flood of memories from that experience.
I remember traveling north to Scranton the night before the race. I was with three friends, all marathon runners, and it had rained so much that day many roads were flooded.
Due to the driving conditions, we didn’t arrive at the expo in time to pick up our race bibs, but luckily we could call a friend who was already in Scranton to pick them up for us.
On race morning, I knew I would be running 26.2 miles alone. I didn’t have a realistic prediction of my finishing time, but I knew I was slower than all of my running friends.
I found runners along the racecourse to chat with as we made our collective way from Forest City to Scranton – runners are typically a friendly bunch – and finished feeling spent, accomplished, and a little bit stunned.
As I stood in the food line with other runners, I struck up a conversation with three women who had just finished too. They were happily comparing this race to others they had run.
“How many marathons have you run?” one of them asked me.
“Including this one? One,” I replied and promptly burst into tears.
The women were sympathetic. “You need something to eat,” they said.
It was true. I knew nothing about nutrition then and had not eaten anything during the course of my long run. I was depleted and craving sugar and salt.
I took a popsicle and some potato chips from the food line.
Now, post-marathon is a good time to treat yourself to a food splurge, but it was lunchtime, and I had just run for over four hours without anything but water and Gatorade in my belly. By the time I found my friends, my stomach was queasy. Rookie mistake.
I should have found something more nutritious to fill my empty belly.
For the past few years, I have been selecting a Word of the Year to focus on. My word for 2020 is humility.
I have written about humility, thought about humility, prayed about humility, and tried to infuse more humility into my life every day for the past 10 1/2 months. Well…almost every day.
As it turned out, 2020 was the perfect year to consider humility. The pandemic reminded me often to be humble; my thin illusion of control was regularly shattered.
Each year I have allowed my word to come to me, rather than searching one out. This year, I knew my word for 2021 months ago.
My word is empty.
Empty may seem like a strange word to focus on, but it is what I am feeling right now. It is the perfect word to follow humility.
The need for clean slates calls to me. I crave blank pages, hollow walls, and empty bowls.
I want to empty myself of my self.
If I am too full of myself, I become selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed. If I am too full of myself, there is no room inside of me to be filled with God’s light.
I am like the moon – I have no power to emit Light, just reflect it. My goal is to steadily reflect the pure, holy, clear, lucent glow we are bathed in each day. First, however, I must make myself empty, tabula rasa.
In a recent post a running blogger I follow asked her readers to describe how running makes them feel in one word. Many readers responded competent, confident, strong, tired (yes…so true).
I considered responding “clean” to the question but finally answered “empty“. Running makes me feel empty. In a good way.
Running has a way of scrubbing away impurities, paring the unnecessary, exposing bare bones. It makes me feel empty, ready to be filled with whatever is coming my way.
It is therefore important I am certain what comes my way is beneficial. I need to take in only nourishing, positive, uplifting things.
Not popsicles and potato chips.
No more rookie mistakes.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30
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