Category Archives: Personal

Blog baby, blog

In the 30 years I’ve been a runner I’ve run more than 150,000 miles. Still, some of the hardest steps I take are those first few getting out the door for daily runs.

Bill Rodgers, Lifetime Running Plan

I did not know what I was doing when I started inklingz last January.  Those of you who are personal friends know that it was a time of personal struggle–the culmination of many months of wanderings, a maze of questions on how to live out my faith, and crippling uncertainty regarding how to move forward in my life.

I had often contemplated a blog or newsletter of some sort.  I like writing.  I find it therapeutic and challenging to capture my thoughts and ideas in a structured form.  And I hoped to catalyze a dialogue on topics that rarely find a proper forum for discussion (at least one that feels proper).  Beyond that, I think I somehow thought I might find (part of?) my salvation, the penance for the hurts I had caused in others’ lives, by “helping” in this way.

And I think if I were to be really honest with you (and myself) I would have to admit I have often fancied myself somehow uniquely thoughtful on these topics.

So I wrote–my motivations as usual, straddling the totally selfish and the just plain arrogant–eh hem, I mean somewhere between selfish and giving–hoping it would somehow be a help to “you” (whoever you is) and a help to me as well.

A year on, I’ve learned a few things and resolved one.

  1. Blogging is difficult! It’s like being an artist and a columnist all at once.  One of the first things that struck me was how exposing it is to lay your thoughts out for the consumption of others.  In fairness, I am no artist; but I think I can now understand a smidgen of what it must be like to show a gallery of your work–your deepest self laid to bare for all to judge.  Beyond that, it’s just time consuming; and if you plan to publish with any regularity you have to force yourself to meet deadlines and be disciplined about it.  It’s a second job!
  2. You just never know what will connect with someone. I have spent hours and hours writing and editing essays of which I was tremendously proud and found that no one connected with them (or even enjoyed reading them!).  But I have also  written something on the subway in my Blackberry on the way to work (Life in 14 Seconds) and discovered that many readers loved it.  Which leads to the next one…
  3. Read more »

Life in 14 seconds

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Eric Liddell in Colin Welland’s Chariots of Fire

I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; 4 feet wide, with 10 lonely seconds to justify my whole existence. But WILL I?

Harold Abrahams in Colin Welland’s Chariots of Fire

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have written. Marathon season came in earnest and I got busy at work as well.  Since I last wrote, I have run two marathons—Baltimore and New York.  I ran a personal best in Baltimore which prompted me to try to qualify for Boston in the NYC Marathon. While I ran another personal best, I was 14 seconds slow of a qualifying time. I often reflect on life when I run and am now wishing I kept better notes on those streams of thought that dance in my head between the periods of misery and bliss in my body. In some ways the list below feels trite to me, but I must say I also find a lot of truth in it. So, a few thoughts on life learned from marathons:
  1. Set goals and come up with a strategy for achieving them
  2. Let yourself believe
  3. Work hard but take time to nurse your wounds
  4. Most races are an internal challenge, not a competition against others
  5. There’s always someone faster than you (and by someone I mean 1,981 people)
  6. Therefore, don’t pay any attention to what those around you are doing—run your own race Read more »

Trust to hope

Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane–Red in Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption

Farewell. Look for your friends, but do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands–Éomer in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers

For we walk by faith, not by sight—2 Corinthians 5:7


Reader response to A view from the darkness was notable. It came in the form of email and personal conversation rather than blog comments—probably because of the intensely personal and emotional nature of suffering. It was clear to me that the topic resonated. Unfortunately, this suggests that suffering is as pervasive a part of the human experience as we probably suspect.

In that post I tried to address God’s faithfulness to us, particularly in the darkness—his promises.  Today, I will do my best to describe what I think our role is—how we signal our desire to have an encounter with God. In so doing, I think we’ll see the importance of the larger life narrative to which we ascribe—the robust description of the world (discussed in Which reality, whose philosophy?) that dictates how each of us interprets events.

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One of the great things about blogging, as opposed both to other forms of media and to life, is that you can edit over time.  Once a newspaper article is printed, your only hope of revision is the little “corrections” box in the next day’s paper.  And as we all know, there’s no revision in life. We can die in the despair of “if I only this” or “had I not that” but there are no do-overs.

I doubt many of you know this (I feel lucky to have you read once), but I obsessively re-read and edit inklingz posts. Most changes are for style or readability, but recently a loyal reader asked if I realized I had altered A view from the darkness in a more material way.  She told me it initially read as if I hoped there was something to find in the darkness and later read with more certainty that indeed we will find God in the darkness.

Had something changed in my thinking?

My knee-jerk response was: Of course not!…I was merely trying to more effectively capture what I wanted to express all along. But on a long run this week (where I accomplish a good amount of my thinking these days), I realized something about faith that is difficult to quantify or explain: God meets those who take a step toward Him in faith, in such a way that faith itself is multiplied.

When I looked into the darkness last week, I can’t tell you I saw much but the thick black of a moonless night. But I also knew there was something I could not see and I was doing my best to reach for it.

I ‘knew’ because of the larger life narrative in which I believe. It allows me to look beyond my immediate circumstances and see a story playing out that suggests that each moment is more than just another moment in a set of disparate, meaningless events (see On the (in?)significance of what we do—two perspectives).

It reminds me of an illustration discussed in Exclusivism that welcomes all—of blind men each touching a portion of an elephant. Each one comes to a unique conclusion as to what he’s encountered—none of them able, based on his limited viewpoint, to identify the massive animal.

Similarly, when we see no light in the darkness we’re not seeing the full picture, the larger narrative.

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