Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Pop bottle of Intent

5.5 Km, 28:00, Clear, -7°C, 9 km wind

Well, today was my first run since the Big B. at church. I ran with Mo and we saw a rabbit. We decided her name was Jill as opposed to Jack, who is my rabbit. After her 20 minutes, I got down to my own 'meditative' run.

I got to thinking about the failure of my Go-cart project with the Boy's Group and other things that are not 'going according to plan'. The inabilities I have are a part of me. But that doesn't mean I can slump down on the road and wait for someone to rescue me. My Go-cart project failed through my unwillingness to plan and act. Through procrastination and fear, I let it fail. It would have been nice if the PBGs would have made it all happen effortlessly. Like they did with Aslan the lion. But even in that case, it was me that decided what actions were necessary. I am the one who brings him to every Boy's Group meeting. I protect him from the boys rough handling.

It is all a matter of intent.

My whole spiritual inspiration was started by one pop bottle. Its value is insignificant taken by itself. I now take that bottle and tithe it to the PBGs as a token of my commitment to Them and my intention to live a life in Jesus (still hard to type).

It is like the bottle I carried for TS in the Marathon. The bottle itself isn't nearly as important as the message it carries to the recipient. The effort expended is what matters as does the love and caring implied by that effort. I have an over-supply of caring in my heart. I intend to share it with those who will allow it.

Some of you who are saying to yourselves, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." That may be so, but without intention, there is no direction. Without direction any action is futile. Undirected action or uncaring inaction are both aspects of evil. So the road to hell is also paved with futile undirected action and uncaring sloth. Intention is a starting point and a moral compass. Action comes from within and direction comes from without (if you are listening carefully)

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Baptism day

Today was the "big day". Today was the day I publicly made my commitment to my congregation and to God to follow Jesus (Hard still to even type that name. I hope you will allow me the eccentricity of using place holders like the PBGs or just God). I make this commitment for the sake of the community I want to feel a part of; their well being is now my well being. I make this commitment to myself so that "with god as my helper" I will become all that I can (am meant to be). I also, dear reader, make the same commitment to you.

I woke up calm and relaxed. Mo will tell you, I was also in a silly mood. Old habit; when things get serious, I react by "lightening" the mood. I volunteered to be a Greeter with Jackie and we had wonderful time welcoming people to the church. Many of my good friend where present, even though my intention to be baptized was a closely guarded secret. Church was pretty usual until my son and two friends did an announcement skit for a church sleepover in January. They dressed up like Harry Potter, Ron and Hermiony. My son wore a black wig, round glasses frames and a face-paint scar. Mo wrote the script. It was great.

The second unusual thing was me up at the front getting baptized. My kids were asked to pour the water into the font for the ceremony. Then it was time to get down on my knees and be baptized. The minister sprinkled the water on my forehead. He said some words about the significance of the ceremony. Then he called up my 'family members' and he and they placed their hands on my head. I was surprised to see that Marnie and my mentor, Ken also came up along with Mo and my kids. That was a pleasant surprise. It is a pitty that Jackie also didn't feel comfortable enough to come up as well.

After the Baptisms were over, we weren't through yet. Val and I, as well as another lady, still needed to be confirmed. The confirmation was the part were we had to affirm our faith and agree to live a Christian life.

Then after that, there were two more people, Mo being one of them, that were moving their memberships from one United Church congregation to another.

After all the ceremonies had be done, we went back to the normal routine.

After the service I invited some people out for a celebration lunch at Tim Hortens.

Someone asked me if I felt any different. I had to admit that I didn't feel anything new. My feet still touch the ground. No halo appeared over my head. Marnie says the miracle happened long before I stood in front of that congregation. I think she is probably right.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Rescue Mission - there will be a test

No run today

I went on a rescue mission today. Hardly a damsel, though she had reason to be distressed. You see, last week her husband ran out on her. She has a low paying part-time job. Her apartment costs too much so she is moving from a small city 1 1/2 hrs south of here to live with her parents.

That is where I come in. Her parents go to my church and a couple of weeks ago I offered to help out with any lifting they needed around their house (the gentleman of the house recently had a heart attack). Who did they think about calling to help with the move? Yours truly.

My brother-in-law often says No good deed goes unpunished. Today I wondered if he was right. The gentleman didn't have a visa, so the van had to go on my card instead. I spent about 4 hrs driving the moving van. The gentleman had no idea where the damsel lived or worked. For the most part she was surely and negative. The woman has ash trays in her ash trays. I can still smell the smoke in my clothes. She gave us loading directions while her daughter's boyfriend and I did all the lifting and packed the van.

It's a test. I'm being tested already. One simple act of faith, and here I am being tested. Well, I still enjoyed my day. I wouldn't want to live in her life for even one day. But I was still good natured, pleasant, helpful and kind. Hey, it is in my nature. I helped lighten her load. I think I even saw her smile once. She certainly didn't deserve another kick from a complete stranger.

Oh, and BTW, tomorrow I am getting baptized and Confirmed as a member of the United Church of Canada. My wife, Mo is so happy. I am just nervous. I think I am past being scared about it. I feel pretty calm about it, actually.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Voice of God?

Run later today, Clear -20°C, 6 km wind

I had a spooky experience on the bus the other day. Well, not exactly spooky in the Hallowe'en sense, but in the spiritual sense.

I was watching a 3 year old playing with the zippers on her coat and thinking about my own kids when they were little. Out of the blue, a thought occurred to me about letting go of old business from the past. The spooky part (for me anyway) about it was that the experience was exactly like the 'Aha' moments I get while running. It seemed to have a quiet ring of truth to it that I sometimes get after thinking about something on my run for 4km/30 minutes. I am tempted to say it was the voice of God. DO-do-do-do.

I don't know about you, but that creeps me out. It wasn't scary or anything. I didn't hear a voice. I just recognized the tone of the thought. And it seemed to have a source beyond me. This thought wasn't telling me how to run my life, or which stock to buy or anything crazy. It was simply a continuation of my life conversation.

It had meaning in the context of the issues I hold and think about.

What meaning, you may ask? Mind your own business. That isn't important for me to relate. If this was a God experience, it wasn't at all what I expected (where were the trumpets?).

The important part to relate is that the 'God voice' wasn't any different from my usual self talk, but that with the practice I've had listening to the PBGs, I could distinguish it as important and separate from myself.

I can't believe I just wrote that. Crazy Nut Case!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Seattle Marathon Trip

Marathon trip report

This entry is about my Seattle Marathon trip. If you are looking for a race report look here.

What a great trip.

What started out as a compromise race (just happened to coincide with my training schedule) and a cost cutting measure (traveling with other people to reduce costs) turned into a wonderful excursion.

My traveling companions were three ladies I met through a friend at the Running Room. Before the trip I knew next to nothing about any of them.

What a crazy threesome I hooked up with. They, of course, knew each other and were great friends. They have participated together in other events before this one. I was the wild-card in the group. For journal purposes, they will be referred to as Twisted Squirrel (TS), Flasher Squirrel (FS) and BonBon Squirrel (BBS). I, by the way, became known as Red Faced Squirrel (RFS).

We all started out nervous about the trip; the unknown traveler (RFS of course), the new Marathon (for all of us except TS), driving a rental car across the U.S. Border, and what to expect for weather during the marathon.

As it turned out, everything went really well. Our slightly delayed flight was bumpy, but uneventful. Our border crossing was slow (½ hr) but we had a very nice crossing guard who was more interested in the marathon and how long it was than the apples we were smuggling across the border. And as for the weather, it was the best we could have hope for; not a drop of rain the whole time we were there (well, it did rain when we were in the car a few times, but that doesn't count, right?).

When we arrived in Seattle, we were greeted by the eerie specter of the space needle glowing in the dark, surrounded by mist and a spooky glow. It looked like a UFO getting ready for take-off.

After a few wrong turns, Mother Squirrel guided us to our hotel, we grabbed a late-night (2:00 AM) snack and retired to our beds.

On day two of our trip, we visited the marathon Expo to pick up our race packages (you know, the timing chip, race number, race shirt and a ton of pamphlets and other goodies) The expo also had lots of other running paraphernalia available as freebies or for purchase.

Since the weather was cooperating, we decided to take a walk down to Pike Place Market. I actually went to the "World Famous Pike Place Fish Market", but they weren't throwing any fish at the time. While we were there, we heard these three black gentlemen singing a wonderful Christmas Gospel song; Their voices were very rich and beautiful. TS bought some prints, we got our picture taken and then went to have dinner. We had fresh seafood, of course ($$).

Day Three: Marathon day (look here for a race report) We ran about 1 1/3 miles to the race as a warm-up. FS was running in the half-marathon, therefore, her race started earlier than the rest of us. We took pictures wished her luck and then checked my post race bag, did some last minute business and mentally prepared ourselves for the race.

A short time later(!) we were all finished our races and ready to head back up the hill to the hotel. (FS didn't manage to save us any clam chowder! Poohie Sulk) We were quite a sight to see, hobbling back to the hotel with our shining silver warm-up capes flapping in the wind, finisher medals displayed proudly around our necks and big grins (and the occasional grimace) on our faces.

We somehow managed to make it through the rest of the day without a long soak in a hot-tub; for me, a hot shower really doesn't cut it after a long hard marathon. BBS & I actually managed to muster enough energy to walk down to Eddie Bauers to do some cloths shopping before supper.

After a celebratory supper and a few toasts we all decided we were tired (I wonder why) so we trundled back to our hotel room and retired for the evening.

For our last day, our travel plans called for a leisurely day with an evening flight from Vancouver to Edmonton. We packed up our stuff by 11:00 or so and all went window shopping. We expected our border crossing to take time, but were pleasantly surprised when it only took a couple of minutes. We stopped by BBS's aunts place and also had a brief stop at the Richmund waterfront. Airport security also took very little time so before we knew it, we were raising a glass in the departure lounge and ready for the flight home.

I was really fortunate to have my three squirrel friends as traveling companions. We shared a lot, laughed a lot, shopped a lot (well, more than RFS is used to, anyway) and when through a lot (remember, the marathon? Oh yeah, that). I hope I won't soon forget this wonderful adventure. I also hope I have more adventures with these wonderful people, ah, ahem, squirrels.