Every New beginning Comes from Some Other Beginnings End

So I borrowed the title for this post from a late 90’s hit by Semisonic.  For those who didn’t listen to 90’s pop music or who may not remember, it’s the song “Closing Time.”  Seems like an appropriate theme for this week.  And I’m not just talking about the race.  It’s true, the race is over.  And I finished in a record 34 minutes and 40 seconds.  This my friends is between a 10-11 minute mile.  And that’s including allergies and walking over the finish line.  Yep.  I had about a tenth of a mile to go.  I could see the finish line.  I could feel the phelgm in my nose and thoat.  What I couldn’t do was breath.  So I stopped running.  I walked.  The closer I got to the finish the line the more people raced passed me.  The crowd cheered and my inner demons tried to taunt me, tantilize me, and torment me.  I said, “No!”  A twofold success…training and running the race….and listening to my body at the end while telling my shoulda, woulda, coulda voice to sit down and shut up.  Truly every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.

That was Saturday.  Today is Tuesday.  And it continues to be a week of endings and beginnings.  Of course there’s the obvious ending.  Or at least closing of a chapter with world events (I’m not even going to dig into that one here)  There’s the ending of another semester, another academic year, another season.  And personaly there is another ending and beginning.  Part of it is recognizing the ending of the ordination process and the beginning of life as a Reverend.  Sounds so strange in some respects.  Me?  Me!  Me?!?  I try my best to live one day at time, put one foot in front of the other.  Some days I do this very well, most days I’m ok, and some days…not so good.  I guess what I mean by that is this whole seeing myself as a “Rev” has been an adjustment to my own preconceptions of myself and ministry.  It’s been a long road, and like the race, has taken a bit of training.  So, this new beginning comes with the end of a long journey.

Then there’s the end of a year of challenge.  That ending started a couple of months ago.  And today I’m not so much interested in going into the pain and suffering of the last year but rather acknowledging the spiritual work it takes to get to resurrection.  Like no other year I truly lived the liturgical calendar from Easter 2010 to Easter 2011.  And life events–both personal and professional–always invited me to engage.  Actively waiting, epiphanies, wilderness journeys, and yes, even resurrection.  And what I’ve realized through it all is that it is all blessing.  Now, I’m not saying I like it all.  I want to relive it all.  I would choose it all.  Or there weren’t moments of pain, injustice, and hurt.  No.  Those are all true.  What is also true is that I faced these challenges in new ways.  I allowed myself the dignity of my own feelings.  I allowed others the dignity of seeing and hearing them.  I’ve talked back and talked up in situations where I would have been silent and sat with some ideas that I would have blurted out in the past.  And in all of this something has shifted.  Something in me.  Something miraculous.  And that is the blessing.

Quotations for the Week

“Closing time…Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”  (Semisonic)

“We were blessed by the minister  / Who practiced what he preached  / We were blessed by the poor man / Who said heaven is within reach  / We were blessed by the girl selling roses /Who Showed us how to live  /We were blessed by the neglected child /
Who knew how to forgive  / We were blessed by the battered woman / Who didn’t seek revenge / We were blessed by the warrior
Who didn’t need to win / Yes we were blessed” (Lucinda Williams)

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The Final Countdown

Hard to believe that it’s only 4 more days until the race.  How did it get here so quickly?

Honestly, all that seems to be going through my head right now are these nagging voices…

To be honest, I’ve never been a good finisher.  By that I mean I seem to be a great starter of projects and then they just sort of tapper off.  I have a handful of 3/4 crocheted scarves, files of half-written stories, strings of beads not crimped.  The list goes on.  I don’t exactly know what my fear of finishing is all about.  Failure perhaps.  Limitation possibly.  Whatever it is, it certainly gets in my way.  And I fear the same for the race.  Friday I ran for 45 minutes and felt great.  I ran over 3.5 miles.  WOO-HOO!  And today I couldn’t get passed 1.75  miles.  Literally couldn’t.  I’d like to say it’s due to the heat and the lack of air circulation at the gym.  (This is partly true–I felt almost claustrophobic today)  But I fear the other part is my strange desire to leave this goal unfinished.  To make it mostly.  To convince myself I tried.

But the week isn’t over yet.  Here’s hoping that in putting this out there, I get back on the treadmill, on the course, on the road, so that next week I can talk about running across the finish line.

Quotations for the Week

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.–Longfellow

The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.  ~Author Unknown

Join the Race

No.  I’m not running a marathon.  Not training for one.  Not even thinking about it.  But I am trying to change my sprinter mentality to a marathon mindset.  About 8 weeks ago I started jogging.  Got myself back at the gym and started following the from Couch Potato to 5K Running Plan (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml) and have been getting to the gym every other day.  Why all this?  Well, I decided this year that I really wanted to RUN the Race Against Racism.  Not walk it.  Not give money to it.  Not stand on the sidelines and cheer.  Actually take the risk of failing and just try to run.  So, I realized doing this little bit of footwork meant starting to do just that–foot work.  So, here I am, 8 weeks later running about 2.5 miles a workout (only .6 more to go, but who’s counting?)

And today (I knew there was a reason my writing yesterday didn’t save), today there was a meeting at the seminary for folks interested in the Race Against Racism.  And one thing led to another, and well, we’re a team.  That’s right.  LTS has its own team.  And here’s the other cool thing, you can be a part of our team.  You can be a part of the team and run, jog, or walk.  You can be a part of the team with your donation.  It’s really simple.  Just go to the YWCA web site link for registering groups-

https://www.raceit.com/register/groups/default.aspx?event=3026 And join the Lancaster Theological Seminary Team (password SEMINARY)  You can choose to register on the team to enter that day or to do a charitable donation.  (And yes, there is even a print-friendly page with a record of your donation for tax purposes.  So Join the Race in body or in spirit.

Quotes for the Week:

“What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate.”
John Bingham, running writer and speaker

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” -Oprah Winfrey

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  (Hebrews 12:1)

Doing the Footwork

Have you ever had one of those weeks where one plus one stopped equalling two?  They say if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.  I agree with this…mostly.  Here’s the thing, sometimes this equation just doesn’t seem to balance out.  At least not for me.  At least not for me and weight loss.  And not for some of my accountability buddies in this “right-sizing” endeavor.  All three of us have had it…the dreaded plateau.  If’ we’re biting, we’re writing.  We’re measuring, trimming, blotting, planning, re-ordering,  jogging, lifting, bending, and stretching.  And you guessed it…no weight loss.  Well, not for me.  One of us lost .2 pounds.  (That can feel like 0) and one of us gained a pound.  All expecting to loose.  Feeling great.  Feeling healthier.  Feeling thinner.  And then.  And then.  And then the actual number.

How can feeling great about being a loser go to feeling like a loser about staying the same?  Should the scale really have so much power over our reality? Is this weight loss venture truly about what I claim it’s about– about being a better steward of my body, my resources, my small corner of the planet–or have I started serving the master of the scale rather than the master of my spirit?

Just this week I listened to a sermon about needing to place my trust in God and have faith.  To be like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.  And I knew at the time the message had something for me.  As an A+ student in both the subjects of worry and control, I need reminding.  But to be honest, I felt myself pushing back on my drive home from church.  Couldn’t all of this worry about today lead to apathy and arrogance?  Haven’t the powers-that-be employed this idea as a means of keeping the status quo?  What about doing the footwork?  As I pondered this more over Sunday afternoon and after today’s weigh-in, I had another thought.  Perhaps it isn’t so much that I don’t do the footwork as to what kind of footwork I do.  When I bow to the gods of worry and control, I loose sight of a bigger reality.  I get so caught up in the number on the scale today, that I can’t see the success of the last two weeks or that there’s a lot more to a health than a number on the scale.  And sometimes, doing the footwork may mean doing something completely counter-intuitive like eating all my extra points for the week or changing up what I do at the gym.  When I pray to worry, control, or the scale, I certainly loose sight of this.  And then another thing happens.  I call it the What the Heck Game.  What the heck, I might as well not go the gym.  What the heck, I might as well have French fries.  What the heck, I might as well not measure my ice cream.  What the heck?  (Sometimes my rationalization is less than rational)  So here I sit, Tuesday night, and I’m tempted.  Tempted to play What the Heck, and what pops into my email, but a link on the UCC web site….a faithfully walking challenge.  No I’m not kidding you.  Apparently, First Lady Michelle Obama has dared us to walk 3 million miles  by the end of November 2011.  Specifically, she’s talking to faith and community organizations in an effort to raise awareness and reduce childhood obesity.  Here I am crying in my Diet Coke debating what food to order first when I play What the Heck, and I see this.

WHAT THE HECK?

So, I’m going to take the dare.  I’m already training to jog the Race Against Racism in April, might as well take the Faithfully Walking Challenge.  And what control freak doesn’t love a good dare?  Will you join me?  I dare ya.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Plan–Let’s Move  http://www.letsmove.gov/

The UCC Faithfully Walking Challenge–http://www.ucc.org/justice/justice-feed/faithfully-walking-challenge.html

Quotes for the Week

[Jesus said:] “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:24-)

I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond. (Mae West)