Running in July

Running outside in July, who would've thought that this activity would've happened today? Well, it did, my friends. Thanks to this "cold front" that came down from the arctic circle (hooray for a polar vortex that doesn't make us want to die), I actually found motivation to get out of bed this morning and run.

And get this, today was day 2 of this abnormal behavior. What?

I know. 

Okay, so I follow Runner's World on Twitter. Honestly, I don't know why. Running and I are never getting along very well and most of the time their tweets make me feel annoyed (plus they tweet way too much). I think people who love running are kind of the worst. But I also acknowledge that is is mostly because I am jealous of their abilities. I have long since come to terms that no matter how disciplined I am with running 4-5 days a week, I will never love it nor get this running high that people claim exists.

All this to say, my run this morning was as delightful as it could've possible have been (considering my grumpy nature towards running). It wasn't because it was an awesome workout (but at least I got out there, hey?) It was mostly because there a few mornings during the summer months that make me so happy to be alive. When the weather is cool, there is a particular aura that I love. I love the way a cool summer morning smells. I love the way it feels. (I love the fact that it was in the low 60s too and thus did not sweet away my whole existence).

Yes world! I will get up and run around with you!

I don't run in the morning very often; so when I do, it often reminds me of the month I lived in Chicago for orientation with Radical Journey in the early fall of 2009. We stayed at Jesus People USA, an intentional community in the neighborhood of Uptown. I love this neighborhood for a lot of reasons, but one main reason is the fact that we were only a couple of blocks from the lake. (A part of the lake that is too north for most tourists to come and bog down). I spent several early mornings during that orientation running along the paths near the lake. It was amazing.

This morning, a wave of memory overtook me, especially when a garage truck drove past me.

"Yep," I thought, "now it even smells like Chicago."

The cool weather in July made me very grateful to be in the prairie (because, yes, it can be lovely); but this morning it made me even more grateful for my time with Radical Journey. I occasionally see a few of my fellow RJers alum in the Newton area and often get letters from my dear teammate, Constance. (Yeah, we're old school like that). I am still really grateful for these connections and the little bit of Radical Journey we will always carry around with us.

My placement in South Africa was extremely challenging for me. Nevertheless, I still have made love for Radical Journey as a whole and value all the lessons I learned during my 10 months with them.

This wave of service nostalgia made me curious to dig into my blog that I kept during my time as a participant. This is not always something I want to do because my experience was hard and I often, without thinking, used my blog as an outlet. This eventually got me in trouble, which still makes me cringe.

But today, it was good. It made me want to write. It made me want to give my teammates (yeah, I will always call them that) an insane hug because I love them and they are nuts. It makes my heart long for Chicago in the late summer.
So in honor of Radical Journey, Chicago, summer and early morning runs, I thought I would re-post a poem I wrote during my time there.

The El

In monotone, I heard a red line man declare he was Jesus, the son of God
Or at least the next president of the United States, since we all know Obama is too young.

Today, Jesus wears a red trucker hat, thick glasses and two necklaces: one from a hospital in the arctic north and the other? The dollar store down the street on Broadway. 

Adjacent from me, a man catches my eye. Moments that were created on accident; apologetically. He hurriedly looks away but not before he tries to suppress a silent smirk. 

The haze of the evening sun smears itself on the thick windows of the train, mellowing the rush of the tracks and smelly stories all felt in a tiny, moving space. Deeper, together, we move into the earth.  

This is Jackson. The doors open on the left at Jackson. 

Jesus stays on the train as I entered into the underground mixed with heat and florescent lighting. I take the stairs, leading beyond me. 

Later, after the clash of the city and a yellowed darkness, I find myself here again where quiet people wait in tired silence while a right-handed man plays a left-handed guitar.  

I can't get no satisfaction

His lyrics bounce off the concert walls, floor, and faces until the rush of the el, clattering down the tunnel eventually moves the moment away from me, like twilight slipping though my fingers 

Doors closing.