Being a pastor, as I am, is in many respects a sedentary job in which people want to feed you a lot. Pay a visit to someone and they offer you cookies or brownies. Offer to meet someone and they suggest you meet over lunch or coffee. Pastors do a lot of sitting and eating and therefore exercise, of some sort, is essential.
And so I run. Someone ‘accused’ me the other day of ‘liking’ to run. I don’t, really. I love to have run. But running itself is something else.
I run because it is good for me (though I’ve needed some pushing recently) and because it has become for me a habit. It is a discipline (something we’ve addressed sporadically before in these pages) which from frequency has become a habitual routine I am loathe to lose.
It is a habit, and habits can have multi-layered benefits. Herman Melville in Moby Dick, speaking of the preparation of the harpooneer who can spring to action and hit his mark in a moment’s notice, praises the value of habit and says this:
“Yet habit — strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?”
What is the habit of running accomplishing for me? When I run, I hope I gain a stronger heart. But I know that I gain insight.
Since I don’t listen to anything when I run, my mind is free to wander. And in wandering, it wanders its way into solutions I don’t think I could have found in any other way. I’ve solved insoluble pastoral conundrums when I run. I’ve re-written whole sermon outlines, ones that had resisted more linear analysis. I’ve mapped out financial goals. I’ve written blog posts. And sometimes I’ve done none of the above. When I run, my mind is set free to solve problems by looking at them obliquely and not directly and the time is available to do so.
In the movie Men in Black 3 Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones / Josh Brolin) illustrates this point by taking his partner, Agent J (Will Smith), to a diner where he orders pie. He’s convinced that the best way to solve a problem that is resisting a solution is to not look directly at it but to put it aside and let the answer come over a piece of pie. “Trust the pie” is his mantra.
Mine is, “Trust the run.” And that may be one of the few things that keeps me running.
One thought on “Trust the Run”
For years I ran on the beach which was so invigorating and inspirational. I can understand just what you mean when you say your mind is free to wander. I still run to clear my head or to gain a different perspective on life although, I have traded the sneakers for my vehicle, and my run usually consist of a ‘drive’ up I-75 vs.
I’m glad you have an outlet that strengthens both your body and your mind. Problem solving is enhanced when we are able to ‘think outside the box’ and observe things from a different vantage point. Keep running and “Trust the run.”
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