Hey Soul Sister – Happy Birthday!

ah, i met her my first day of work at at a natural foods grocery store in texas…nearly 20 years ago. <gasp!> she knew all about wine.  i knew a lot about food, and wanted to know more about wine. and there you have it: the recipe to feed a friendship that has lasted half my lifetime.  we spent 16 years together in the same city, several of those as upstairs/downstairs neighbors and at the same workplace.  whether we see each other 3 times a day, or 3 times a year, each new time picks up right where the old one leaves off.  a seamless continuum of human connection — the connection for whom you always pick up the phone,for whom you always have a shoulder for tears or an ear for laughs, for whom you are a ready rescuer from a bad date, for whom your futon and extra pillows are always available.  THAT person.
i was able to visit THAT person’s neck of the woods for a few months recently.  i had not seen her in 3 years, maybe more.  we poured wine.  we broke bread.  we relived our memories of each other, our lives, our loves, our laughs, our foibles, our sorrows.   we confessed to one another how “that little thing you did, that simple gesture back in 19_ _ or 20_ _ it saved me”, each of us having no idea how the actions of our friendship sustained each other in challenging times.
we toasted and smiled.   we were warm and wonderful.
as i watched my friend cook (as she insisted while i sit at the table and sip my wine), our conversation veered into the most magically stimulating discussion.  i cannot recall what preceded or triggered the topic, but we found ourselves wrangling with the meaning of the word soul.
soul.  the human soul.
that oh so ponderable never-never-place that is touched but not with hands, that is felt but not by nerves, that is seared but not with heat, that is rocked but not by music, that is pierced but not with arrows, that is soothed but not with medicine.
from soul, we meandered to afterlife, heaven, religion, politics, art, literature, humor, food, wine and friendship and back full circle to soul.  and, no closer to a tangible understanding, we decided, or maybe we let the wine decide, that we are not here to define soul, but rather to live it, and let it live, and that eventually, we would understand soul better, but also respect it as undefinable, not finite, not absolute.  we toasted to our wine-laden revelation and thanked our lucky souls for these things:
happy birthday my dear friend.  i can’t wait to see you in a few weeks and pick up where we left off.

Of Running and Religion

so, when you have found the thing that brings you peace and balance, getting addicted to it is easy. and so it goes for me and running. or perhaps some my call my gait jogging. anyway, a good 5-6 mile trek before/at dawn is my peace. it’s a time for a new day’s first thoughts, reflections, plans, musings, meditation, or just a sunrise solitude with whatever comes to my mind*body*soul.


it’s my choice of workout, too — it’s free, i don’t ever have to wait for a machine, i do it on MY time, and all i really have to do is put one foot in front of the other. usually, i go to a local high school track. the surface is so easy on my middle aged knees. i can really lose myself in my steps, too, b/c there no traffic to dodge, no surprise potholes, no traffic lights, etc etc. it’s nice, but can be monotonous. so sometimes, for a change, i hit the local streets, which in these parts, are quite hilly. the hills are not my favorite, but they add a periodic challenge to the aforementioned joys of running. either way, it’s great to have choices of where to run.

until this winter.

unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about some snow. 2 feet, then 3 feet then another 2 feet. usually, a DC-area snowfall is plowed and cleared within a day or two, so it’s not long before you see your fellow runners out and about. but not this winter. plow crews are just not quipped with manpower nor machines to handle the recent dumpings. those addicted to that runner’s high endorphin, like me, sought out gyms or treadmills i guess. i have neither option. even though i got some great upper body workouts of shoveling in, i haven’t not gotten in a good long run in several weeks. it’s just not safe: there are ice patches in the roads; roads still not plowed; the high school track is a huge white tundra. i have found an alternative “workout”, though…i don my snow boots and go for a long long snow hike. it gets me moving, yes, but it’s not running. it’s just not. but i resigned myself that it will have to suffice until things thaw out.

then one day in my car travels, i noticed a HUGE church parking lot. it had been plowed clean, no ice remaining, and it was FLAT! what a great place to ruuuuuuuuuuuuun! this flat, big, dry, church parking lot can be my morning sanctuary for now. AWESOME! addicts find ways to get their fixes and i found mine.

so this morning, so thrilled, yet oh so jonesing, that is where i went. what a great feeling to find my stride, circling the quarter mile perimeter (which of course i had measured w/my car odometer)! and JUST when i was breaking sweat, just when i had transcended into my own little endorphin-secreting meditative state, i saw him.

he was about 6 feet tall, well coifed salt and pepper hair, friendly eyes. he was all dressed in black, save the collar. you know, that pastor/priest/clergy ring of white. he smiled at me, and asked me if i knew i was on private property. this was so disturbing on so many levels (mainly because it had interrupted my run) so i came to a stop but stood there, jogging in place (refusing to let go of the beautiful endorphins). a few seconds went by and i tried to come up with something, ANYTHING to keep going, when the following words came out of my mouth:

“yes sir, i do. but here i feel so much closer to god”

and with that, he gave me an authoritative but relenting ecumenical nod, and walked back into the church. as i picked up my pace and got back to the rhythm of the sweet solitude of my meditation, i looked at the cloud-wisped morning sky and thought:

our god is an awesome god. 

she really is.