When we first moved into the Sunshine House, B and I noticed some crinkled-up brown debris in some of the nooks and crannies of the giant oak tree in our front yard. Having no personal giant oak experience, we worried and hoped nothing was wrong with our beautiful tree, and the tree service guys who came to fertilize and trim it for us assured us that what we had was the perfectly harmless (and, I think, miraculous) and aptly named resurrection fern. During dry spells, it becomes a nondescript brown aberration on the bark of the tree, but each time there is sufficient rain, up it pops — beautiful, mysterious, green, and striking on the branches and trunk of our majestic oak.
There are many things we can say about resurrection, with the most obvious being, in Christian belief, Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It’s a word I always associate with some other “R” words as well, like renewal and revival. This summer, for a number of reasons, I began to think of the resurrection fern as metaphor in my own life, particularly about running.
My relationship with running has been, shall we say, nonexistent for most of the summer (That’s a lie, I just realized. I think maybe since that self-thwarted 50K in March …) It’s kind of my own fault and kind of a product of circumstance, all of which are really just a lot of excuses. I worked 10-hour days this summer. It was hot outside. That kind of thing. We went to northern Michigan a few weeks ago, for example, and instead of taking a run along beautiful Green Bay (where it was not hot), we walked downtown and had ice cream instead. I’m not saying that was a bad thing, necessarily; in fact, I quite enjoyed it. But still.
For me, typically once one element of the delicate balance of things we call life falls off track, once one of the balls in the air drops, everything else quickly follows. Usually to whatever degree my exercise diminishes, bad eating habits increase in equal proportion (see the ice cream reference above. It was a double dip. In a waffle cone).
I made some small attempts to get back “on track” in July–I actually ran very short distances for 11 days–but then August happened, and … nothing until last week. It was my first three-day running week since I can’t remember when.
This afternoon, Varsity Sports starts its annual fall training, and B and I will be happily out there, glad to see our running friends, and to begin again. Many of our friends have continued throughout the hot summer days, with no break, but for me it will be another fresh start. I have an unspoken goal in mind, and I need those friends to help me get there.
How many times have I “started over” with running training, fallen away, let the balls drop one by one? Nearly every year for the eight years I’ve been running? I started thinking of that resurrection fern, fed by what it needed, and I realized what a gift we have, what an opportunity, to do this again and again. To start over. To be resurrected, revived, renewed. And not just with running, but with so many aspects of our lives. Religion. Love. Jobs. Friendships.
Maybe this will be the last year I have to start over with running, and maybe I’ll be saying the same thing next fall. I’m learning not to beat myself up about it either way. For right now, though, I have been given this gift, and I’m planning to make the most of it. See you this afternoon?