Running is the simple light of grace.

  • Saturday, December 23, 2017
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“I feel the same way about solitude as some people feel about the blessing of the church. It’s the light of grace for me. I never close my door behind me without the awareness that I am carrying out an act of mercy toward myself.” ~ Peter Høeg, ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow’
I am sitting on my sagging sofa, outside the sky is a grumpy grey but inside the sweet smell of pine is filling the room from the Christmas tree, it’s green branches heavy with Red and Gold baubles and a grubby Spongebob, gap toothed with a maniacal squint. The tree is surrounded  by a halo of pine needles on the cheap laminate floor. I am in the midst of what appears to be the dead or dying remnant of an army of socks, crusty and curling, discarded by various family members as they come in the door from various outings and activities. To my left is a relic of the ghost of a runner past, a mismatched pair of More Mile running socks, a reminder that once I ran in conventional shoes. Who has resurrected these and had the courage or lack of foreboding to wear them is a mystery. 
This is my joy and delight, called to live in a large and chaotic family, my daily challenge to resolve the tension between being a neat and orderly human and the barrage of noisy and colourful humanity who daily leave their debris on the high tide mark of my life. They are my riches, these beautiful kids, they have both broken me and been my salvation but learning to bend my internal mechanisms to accommodate them sometimes wearies me.
I have come to crave solitude.
I have wasted the morning. Rare time to myself and I have spent it idly flicking through news channels or half dozing on the sofa. This was an opportunity for stillness and peace but I am instead incredibly restless and a bit morose. Now I am writing this. I’m a bit cross with myself.
I have always enjoyed being alone, it is when I am happiest and at peace. Recently I have an increased awareness of my need for solitude and my desire for it. I have begun to seek it out, I’ve kicked social media into the long grass and stepped back from the dramas of collegues lives. It is a retreat where I am in the world but not of it. It is a withdrawal from the tribe, a fallow desert experience allowing for renewal. It is the pursuit of simplicity. It feels healthy.
This is why I could only be a runner.
It is a natural environment for me. I can spend monastic hours alone, in nature, not speaking, just listening and breathing. My clothing is simple and unremarkable and my equipment minimal. There is nobody to question me, to raise eyebrows or laugh at my ritualistic quirks - always go left around objects, touch a particular tree with my left hand, run routes clockwise. Obsessively shaving my head. If I don’t run then I break, it is that simple. Running allows me to open the cell door to the tightly wound, austere and unforgiving slave driver inside of me, the legalistic unbending thing whose rules and demands will never be met. It lets in the light. Running is the simple light of grace.
I’m finishing this with my lips and fingers greasy from eating Sainsbury’s Firecracker chicken wings and barbecue drumsticks. I went out for a run this afternoon and I didn’t go alone. I had my middle son who is close to running faster and stronger than me, a great winter run in the mud.
I hope this is the end of faux philosophical blogposts for a while, I want to get back into some serious training, it’s time to step it up for 2018 but remain in the simple light of grace.
Solitude sharpens awareness of small pleasures otherwise lost. Kevin Patterson


The simple light of grace. “If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking” kim Walker.

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