The voice I heard told me to stop running and to pause. Then it told me to let pass whatever was coming in my field of vision or minds eye, to let myself take in the moment and whatever came my way. Then splat. My head did not just pass through a low hanging branch just above eye level; it rammed into it violently. It was jarring and really hurt. Blood started immediately flowing through my white running hat.
On this blog, I have explained that I meditate while jogging and listening to scripture while getting ready for the day. I champion the idea, stolen from Jan Johnson, to do what you can and not what you can’t. So, if I can combine my need for exercise and activity with the need to meditate on Christ and pray then I am being efficient and have found a win-win.
Yet, I literally got knocked up-side the head while trying to do both. The actual words from the contemplative prayer practice I was listening to said, “If you are in your car, you will want to pause the recording until you can stop or pull over on the side of the road. Or if you are running, you will want to stop and do the exercise while seated.” I didn’t listen and I tried to multitask breathing, pausing, praying, running, avoiding trees, calming the monkey mind, and navigating a dark running path. The results were embarrassing and foolish.
Once I assessed that I wasn’t concussed or in need of immediate care the thought came that I should start running again and get on with my pre-determined pace and distance. That was the plan and I wasn’t going to let a little cut derail my ambition and need to achieve.
But then I realized the irony of the whole scene and humor in my actions. Who cuts their head open while meditating and praying? What does it say about me that I don’t have 10 minutes in my day to devote to silence and time with God and I have to batch all these tasks together? Wasn’t my bleeding skull a clear sign that, at least in this moment, I was doing it wrong? That pausing and resting with God is the best thing for me to do, not getting one more mile in?
I thought about these things as I walked back to my house. I could have run but my hard head now had a literal gash in it and I had things to consider and actions to question and running would have been prideful and silly.
The cut wouldn’t stop bleeding. My hat was covered in blood and it took a trip to my campus’ nurse and until afternoon that day for spots of blood not to appear. It was as if God wanted to remind me throughout the morning what my overactivity and hurry had brought me.
I still will promote ways to make Growing Up doable for others based on their lifestyle, family activity, and schedule but I was reminded that I can push this notion too far and the results can be comical and dangerous. It is like the old pastoral advice, “People say, ‘I don’t have time to pray.’ But I say, ‘You don’t have time not to pray.”
This is a hard lesson and one that I haven’t quite figured out yet but God got my attention and I am looking for ways to actually pause, to actually rest in him, and to actually be still and know him. There is a place and time to practice the presence of God while doing other things but there is also a deep need to pause and give God our full attention in body, mind, and strength.