When I run, I run without headphones because it gives me opportunity to think about my day, think about my life, and think about my stride. Some days my thoughts never reach higher than one, two, three, four, breathe, one, two, three, four, breath. But other days the run helps me gain mental and spiritual perspective.
On some morning runs, everything in life is good. The temperature is just right, my legs and lungs feel fine, and the entire world seems bright and new. On a good morning, I imagine that I could run forever like some Greek demi-god. I’ve often imagined myself to be Achilles, fleet of foot. In the morning light, the world is young, and I am strong, though in my heart I know it cannot last.
I always imagine myself to be Achilles because I know that my moment of triumph will be brief. I know that in a matter of time I, like Achilles, will suffer a leg injury that will lay me low. Even on my best runs, I know that I dare not compare myself to Hermes.
But then there are other mornings, like today, when I don’t feel so strong. My stride is a clumsy mess. Even if I hit my ideal pace, the struggle to achieve it robs me of joy. I’m merely a mortal, trying to keep one step ahead of death, but I feel him gaining with each passing mile.
Not only am I not strong, but also the world is not so young. Today, as I ran, I passed a dead squirrel who had fallen from his tree. He lay in my path, broken and bleeding. I mourned for the broken squirrel because it reminded me of the brokenness of the world we live in. Pondering the broken world reminded me of all the broken lives around me. Most days I run by them without a thought, without pity. Thousands of people broken by sin and death.
Yesterday I celebrated the resurrection, but today I pondered the dead squirrel and the dying world that it represents. I asked that the Lord would come quickly, not merely for the sake of the squirrels, but for all of us. We fool ourselves into thinking we’ll achieve immortality like the Greek heroes, but there was no salvation even for Achilles. The hope that came on a Sunday morning is the only cure for the despair I feel on Monday morning’s run.
Things aren’t right with the world, but too often we run by so fast that we don’t notice. I should thank God that he lays me low some days, but to paraphrase Augustine, “Give me humility and a broken spirit, but not yet.” Even so, I look forward to the day when Monday morning and dead squirrels will be no more. When Christ returns, we will live in an eternal Sunday, and we will run and not grow weary. May hope in the resurrection transform your Monday.