2009\’s Most Memorable Run

The year’s most memorable running moments:

I don’t think it was the Boston qualifying marathon I ran. But I did enjoy telling everyone I had BQ’d.

I don’t think it was the 5:24 50k Frisco 50; or the 1:55 Olathe half marathon.

It could have been one of the mystical runs which took place in the early morning darkness in Atchison. Whether warm or cold, these runs were so magnificent.

It could have been the moment, after 6 hours of the Psycho Psummer, after running 5 hours on a sprained ankle, that I was laying face down in mud on a rock pile realizing that my leg just wasn’t going to hold me up and I’d have to quit at the next aid station.

It could have been the 50k training run I did a week after the Psycho in order to get revenge. I ran 50k on dirt roads in 6 hours. That afternoon, I spent laying on the bed, my legs covered in red splotches of heat rash and ice packs on both knees and ankles.

It could have been the 5 hour run I did in the extreme early morning because it was the day for my long run but I had a telephone interview scheduled at 10 am. I flubbed the interview.

It could have been the 4 hours in the pouring rain and cloudy darkness.

It could have been the 20 mile run where I saw a huge rat snake, a deer, a huge bull frog and a soaring hawk; or the day I faced down a skunk, or watched a sick looking fox, or the bald eagle cruising just above me.

It might have been the exploration run which ended at a dead end in a cow pasture; or the many times I ran down a straight dirt road, between tall corn with five or six deer flies attempting to bite me and cars every now and then dusting me out, with sweat dripping profusely.

It probably was not the 20 mile run I had in Koln, Germany. Except for being in Germany, that run was distinctively boring.

It probably wasn’t the last run I had in the park in Atchison after getting a new job and moving to Kansas City. I had spent 4 or 5 hours a day running in that park all summer while I was laid off; but now, it was the past. My life had moved on.

I don’t think it was the 2 mile run I ran with an extremely bruised toe and a huge pained grimace on my face; which toe had kept me out of the Kansas City marathon.

It could have been the day I had a magnificent open air dump, on top of a levy, surrounded by miles of flat fields and a sun coming up.

Was it the day I counted 20 bunny rabbits?

It could have been the day I ran sixteen 9 minute miles.

It could have been my first exploration run in Riverside; where I discovered a cool patio with a view behind an office building, several fountains, troll gate, the miniature space shuttle to the Northmore Castle, and the Northmore castle itself.

Or really, it was just this morning when I ran 40 minutes on the treadmill. I’m totally grateful for any run, any day, any time. Endorphins are my passion. Give me a stretch of road and I’ll happily run along it for as long as I can.

Silence Again

Interesting article with links:

Some quotes from:

http://benedictinesofheartsonghermitage.org/custom4.html

A monk living with another monk is not like a monk living as a solitary. When a monk is alone, he has need of great vigilance and of an unwandering mind. The former is often helped by his brother; but an angel assists the latter. ~ St. John Climacus,

And here are the signs of those who are practicing stillness in the wrong way: dearth of (spiritual) wealth, increase of anger, a hoard of resentment, diminution of love, growth of vanity; and I will be silent about all the rest which follow. ~ St. John Climacus,

He who is sick in soul from some passion and attempts stillness is like a man who has jumped from a ship into the sea and thinks that he will reach the shore safely on a plank. ~ St. John Climacus,

He who wishes to dwell in the solitude of the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and sight.
~ Anthony

He who dwells with brethren must not be square but round, so as to turn himself towards all. ~Poemen

The Lord knows that I love you all, but I cannot speak with God and people at the same time.
~ St. Arsanius the Great

There are many in the mountains who behave as if they were in towns, and they are wasting their time, it is better to have many people around you and to live the solitary life in your will than to be alone and always longing to be with a crowd. ~ Amma Matrona

Thus, when a young brother asked him to recommend whether to live as a solitary or to stay in the monastery, Abba Joseph of Panephysis replied that whichever state brought him peace was to be preferred, and that if he could not decide even then, it should be based on whichever enabled him to make spiritual progress.It is not through virtue that I live in solitude, but through weakness; those who live in the midst of others are the strong ones. ~ Poemen

If you have not first of all lived rightly with others, you will not be able to live rightly in solitude. ~ Abba Lucius
What others think of your life is not as important as what you know about your life in Christ. What you think about your life is not as important as what God knows about your life in Christ. ~ Abiah+
S
Restrain your desire to mingle with crowds. Crowds of people distract your spirit and disturb your inner peace.
~ Abba Evagrius

Detach yoursel from the enjoyment of crowds or your enemy will challenge your spirit and disturb your peace.
~ Abba Doulas

… the basic motive for choosing the solitary life in a hermitage consists in an existential longing to meet and talk to God. The hermit chooses silence in order to enter fully into a dialogue; (she) chooses solitude in order to meet closely a personal presence. The way of the desert is thus not a stray and arid path, it does not lead to the negation of all the values of the world and of other people. Just the opposite: it is the way of mutual presence, dialogue, and friendship that shines where two freedoms and two hearts, divine and human, meet.\” C. Wencel

Internalizing A Course in Miracles

This morning, in my morning ACIM study (28.II), I read, “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions. No one is afraid of them when he perceives he made them up…. The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect.”

I thought, “I must have learned something from the course or experienced something of a miracle if I believe, or am willing to believe, that the world-as-I-see-it is my dream. Some healing must have occurred.” It may have required reading the ACIM text almost 5 times and the work book twice, but I think I finally took the first step. [Wow! Amazing! Considering ACIM is so far off the religion map, it truly is amazing that I might have learned some of it. Maybe I can gain inner peace after all.]

The ACIM text dryly discusses the dream and the dreamer. I have to get the text into my own heart to know I am learning. My thinking I might have taken the first step framed my thoughts from last night into a context that made sense.

Last night, I thought, “I have held the ‘world-as-I-see-it’ in a strangle hold of hatred and a death grip of fear since ancient times;” all the while attempting to pound it to death with thoughts. Just before thinking this, I realized I was finally able to take my hand off the hot stove of certain social interactions. If I finally let go of the hot stove, I am free. When I realized how I had been trying to strangle the world-as-I-see-it, but that it was not the real world, I somehow did sense the innocence of the real world.

Today I recognized that last night’s thought (the strangle hold of hatred which I could let go and see innocence) was my internalization of ACIM. This morning I realized that “the-world-as-I-see-it” is my own terminology for the dream. Reading a book is interesting but useless if you can’t do what it says. When I work at something long enough to put it in my own words, internalize it, then I know the information did help me progress somehow.

I don’t have to be afraid if I understand that my former hatred has no effects, no payback, no punishments, nothing. It was a dream of hatred. When I sense the innocence of the real world, all around me, I also sense that it is God; and it is God I been trying to choke to death while bashing His head into the ground; and whom I have been afraid of since ancient times. I understand that I hate God because I didn’t know the dream was mine. I feared God because I thought he would know of my hatred and punish me for it.

Really, I admit this! Sit quietly with your thoughts and the Holy Spirit long enough and you’ll admit the same thing. I am not unique, just different in that I do sit quietly with my Teacher and work on my lessons.

This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream’s alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream. They are the glad effects of taking back the consequence of sickness to its cause. The body is released because the mind acknowledges “this is not done to me, but I am doing this”. And thus the mind is free to make another choice instead. Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step. in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.”

I have hope that perhaps I actually am re-tracing my steps to go home.

I apologize that my explanation might not be good enough to strike you with how momentous it is that I might actually understand that I am the dreamer of the dream and that it is just a dream. I realize that what I cut out of ACIM text is out of context and not really understandable without reading the whole book. Also, when I try to explain how bits and pieces have suddenly fallen together for me, it is impossible for me to put it into words in a coherent way without writing a book. So, if my blog confuses you, don’t feel bad.

[Before I started to read the ACIM text the first time, I read a book by Gary Reynard. After reading that book I decided to tackle ACIM. At the outset, I knew I would have to dedicate at least one year to doing the workbook, but that it would take at least 5 years of study to have a good understanding of the material]

I ran 3:25 in bright sunshine, showered and ate a cheese sandwich. Melted cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread qualify as a major food treat for me.

Hermit Day 4

Photobucket

For something completely different, I spent 3 hours on an indoor endurance event today. I would ride the ex-bike for 5 minutes and then spend 25 minutes on the treadmill (varying speeds between 4 and 6 mph and inclines between 0 and 4%) and then back to the bike. This picture is a view from the treadmill.

I decided to skip the 4 hour drive to Springfield MO to go in a marathon. The roads were messy with snow around Kansas City and for an hour or so further south.

Today is the 4th day of my hermit holiday. My habit was to get up late (7 am or so), study A Course in Miracles for an hour, check the computer, exercise for 3 hours, shower, make fresh juice (apple, carrot, celery and pineapple), eat, play on the computer, read a book, lift weights, read, etc., go to bed at 10.

Yesterday, I blogged about the past decade of my life. Today, I feel ready to let it go and see who I am today.

One of the biggest changes in me is that I feel comfortable without being productive or valuable to society. That is huge! It means I\’ve come a long way in denying my ego power over me.

The Miracle – A Perception Shift

I did my spiritual study this morning and received a new perception. I learned something from the Holy Spirit. The result is that I can’t remember why I hated. From ACIM 28.I:

  • When ancient memories of hate appear, remember that their cause is gone. And so you cannot understand what they are for.
  • And see, instead, the new effects of cause accepted now, with consequences here.
  • The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. It reaches gently from that quiet time, and from the mind it healed in quiet then, to other minds to share its quietness. And they will join in doing nothing to prevent its radiant extension back into the Mind Which caused all minds to be.
  • What you remember never was. It came from causelessness which you confused with cause. It can deserve but laughter…
  • The miracle reminds you of a Cause forever present, perfectly untouched by time and interference. Never changed from what It is. And you are Its effect, as changeless and as perfect as Itself.

My gift is to have forgotten.

Reflecting on the Decade – 1

(I\’m sure I\’ll have changes and additions to the minutes!)

12/24/99 – I ran away from Kansas City to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (BSPA). I sought contemplation; but immediately reverted to 4 years of people pleasing in order to get approved to stay. Everyone was worried about Y2K; but I was smug having left the world.
.
2000 – Lived as a volunteer with the BSPA at Sand Springs until September when I became a postulant and moved to Clyde.

2001 – 2002 – I finished one year of postulancy and began a 2 year novitiate. Somewhere in here, we had 9/11, Enron and the start of the Iraq war. I was smug about the financial disaster because I assumed I was safe in the monastery and guaranteed 3 hots and a cot for life. Reading \”A Cave in the Snow\” about Tiensin Palmo, I realized that eating meat affects the contemplative life; so I immediately gave up all meat and have not ate a scrap of it since then.

2003 – I completed the two year novitiate and got kicked out of the monastery the day before vows. The day before getting kicked out, I had a spiritual experience of an extraordinary variety whose message was: Love is the predominant mode of existence. The day after getting kicked out, in tears, I asked God, “Why me? Why do I have to leave?” He said, “Because you can deal with the hassles of life while still being contemplative and noticing my Presence. I need someone out here who can do that.” Driving away from the monastery, I realized how deeply I wanted monastic profession to validate me as a worthwhile person. Hence I began a journey of self value not tied to any authority. I moved back to KC and got a job at Panera as a cashier (talk about humility, a professional engineer working at a bagel place). I was active in St Therese parish with RCIA and Befriender’s. Rose was my spiritual guide. I also went to H&R Block tax school and reconnected with Compliance Engineering (part time).

2004 – During the winter, I worked as a tax preparer along with working at Panera and Compliance Engineering. I hated Camden apartment and bought a duplex in Chapel Woods. In October, I started work at MGP. God gave my environmental engineering career back. I cannot argue with this vocation. I have been a licensed Professional Engineer since I was 25, but never recognized it as my \”profession.\”

2005 – Working at MGP. I was struggling with church authority and lust for Fr Mike; who kept putting his hands in places that agitated and confused me. In October, I bought the house in Atchison. I also walked out of church and didn’t go back. I began a solitary struggle with self. I worked through Catholic guilt, practiced fasting, sat on a cushion several hours a day and worked at becoming a solitary Essene.

2006 – Working at MGP. I heard of 3,100 Self Transcendence race and Suprabha Beckjord. I immediately upped my mileage and started running marathons and ultra-marathons. I wanted to find enlightenment in ultra-running.

2007 – Still working at MGP. Running a lot. Discovered A Course in Miracles (ACIM) in July. Fired Rose in September. I credit ACIM with so much emotional progress over the 2 ½ years I have worked with the material. I am not done with my journey but am light years from where I was at as I drove away from the monastery.

2008 – Still working at MGP. Broke my arm in March. Had surgery 3 times. Got a new car. Letting go of Christianity as a religion, it seemed like a massive people pleasing project. I have no problem relating to Jesus my Friend, the Holy Spirit my Teacher and Christ as the mystical divine being, the Son of God of which all humans are.

2009 – Turned 50. Ran a marathon in 3:57 (under 4 hours for the first time in my life). Worked at MGP until June. Laid off for nearly 3 months. Ran an average of 20 miles a day during my layoff. Sorted through my mental and spiritual baggage. Got a new job at Bayer starting in September: Senior Process Safety Engineer. Apartment in KC. Sold the Atchison house. Went to Germany. Bought a new Prius.

Reflection:

  • I still get agitated over BSPA. My ego hates that I don’t get to wear the nun credentials on my sleeve.
  • I still seek to know God deeper. God has been my quest for all my adult life and I consider myself dedicated to spirituality.
  • I run as much as I want. I have the ethos of an athlete, despite never being elite at any sport. The qualities of character which make someone a world class athlete run rampant in me. I have to really watch what I eat.
  • I still fear what others think of me and I am a fearful person. Despite magnificent spirituality and emotional growth, I feel like a loser.
  • Having spent the past ten years marginalizing myself from ordinary life. I can no longer relate to other people. I still feel under-currents of hate for the unconscious normal people and continuously take my inventory, giving such ill feelings to Jesus.
  • I still seek wisdom in solitude. I have an ethos of guilt for my alternative lifestyle (running, contemplative solitude and A Course in Miracles).
  • When I remember (and/or decide), I can connect with the Presence of Love; as well as see the Face of Christ in others. I am a person more blessed with the Presence than anyone I have ever met; yet I still hear my ego hammering away at me.

So be it! Life is.

In the World but not of it

In my morning meditation today, I read from ACIM 27.III:

  • An empty space that is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, become a silent invitation to the truth to enter, and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation’s real appeal. For what you leave as vacant God will fill, and where He is there must the truth abide.
  • Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen.
  • In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved.
  • …in your state of mind, solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left.
  • Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant’s surety.

Today I ran 1:50 along the levy. It was a driving freezing rain that was painful at first. Going out, one side of my face was frozen. Coming back, the other side was frozen. I peed under the interstate. The Gortex did its job. I did this run because, well whenever I have time, I go running. I\’m not particularly tapering for a marathon on Sunday because, well, with snow on the way I\’ll likely walk on the treadmill tomorrow; and I don\’t even know if I\’ll feel like the three hour drive to get to the marathon.

The guy with the book was out there too. This man trudges along reading a book and not looking up at all. Today, he was trudging through the grass on the leeward side, away from the wind, with an umbrella. His blue jeans were sopping up the rain. I don\’t think he saw me up on the levy, but his dog came and said hi.

I saw a heard of wild turkeys, a couple of cardinals and some other small birds.

I see Christmas all around me but am not angry at it. I have cut ties with the reality of the illusion if I can watch the illusion but not be involved with it. This ambivalence is to be in the world but not of it.

I know some thoughtful people who don\’t want to do Christmas but do it because of pressure from others; blaming children or parents for their involvement. Peer pressure justifies gang rape too! Others feel like they must give, so they go work at the soup kitchen. Others feel like it is terrible for anyone to be alone and offer loners a place at their table. Others feel the religious necessity of celebrating Jesus\’ birthday, a holy day of obligation as well. Some loners gather together anyway unable to stand the idea of being alone on Christmas.

I have 5 days in a row off work. Time to be in solitude and silence.

So I have broken free of the ties of peer pressure. It puts me in a vacuum outside the world. I have time and space to listen to the inner Voice. The vacuum is a void where a spiritual reality can flood in to my awareness (even if it is not Christmas this happens). The spiritual reality is quiet. It has no definition related to the material world. It is a place I know, where I exist as an abstraction.

Sitting in my apartment watching the thoughts float through my mind is no different than going out into the world and watching what is going on with other people. Neither the thoughts in my mind nor the world I seem to see around me are real. The spiritual reality, which is real, is eneffable, undefined, abstract, ungrasped, unperceived; yet known. The inner Voice does not speak in words. I invest less of my belief in the material world, thus letting go of judgment, fear, anger, hate and self centeredness. I invest more of my belief in the world of undefined being, existence without limit or terms.

It is somewhat difficult to keep the attention focused on the spiritual world. To be in solitude focused on the spiritual world is the lingering gift of monastic life. Physically divorced from ordinary life while in the cloister, I was never able to return to normal life exactly. I continued my spiritual quest into the Great Beyond, where nothing said in words makes sense.

Poem of the Solitary Runner

A silent athlete in a silent world.
A muscle twitches, hardens, tightens, holds and lets go.
No one knows.
The count goes to 15; 15….15.
Tighten the laces.
Foot fall after foot fall on the wet pavement.
The swish of nylon plus husky wet breaths.
I can’t see. Slashing arms grip air. I get by.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
Raw.
I don’t know why I am out here doing this.
Stamina, endurance, endlessness, driven by madness.
Energy unchanneled, lavishly expended, flung uselessly.
For nothing.

A cocoon of core. A cocoon of distance.
A funeral pyre of objectivity.
Rising, emerging, a chi floating on new fallen snow.
Through the silent woods. Footfall after footfall. I’ve forgotten what was.
I’ve been freed of who was.
Eternal presence, quietly alone.
Nothing, nobody.
Free.
Identity crucified by the endless distance and north wind.
Mystery strides forth coated in sweat.
Power shrugged at.
Another lap, another hill, one more time.
Solitary, mindful, obstinate unbelief, persevering belief.
Nothing to say, a sneer unsubsumed.
Uncalled for arrogance, prostrate, gasping.
Pushing, pushed.
Sacred, holy, an eruption of thought unbridled.
Love unchecked, let go, sprinting.
Phenomenon whispered by the sunlight.
Sheer awareness.
Alone, unlimited, annihilation of identity.
Unqualified existence, being untwisted.

A snowflake soon melted. Silence continues.

The Wednesday Before Christmas

This morning at Mass, Jesus already had on his Christmas colors.

This morning I got up a little early, 3:30. I did my spiritual study which left me empty, no real inspiring thoughts. If I am terriby peaceful and quiet, I recognize emptiness as peace. But this seems to require some spiritual skill and awareness; otherwise we just think God wasn\’t there and go on with our worldy life. ACIM text 26.II:

  • This is your brother, focus of your hate, unworthy to be part of you and thus outside yourself…The Holy Spirit knows your healing is the witness unto his, and cannot be apart from his at all.
  • Let yourself be healed that you may be forgiving, offering salvation to your brother and yourself.
  • Forgiveness is not real unless it brings a healing to your brother and yourself. You must attest his sins have no effect on you to demonstrate they are not real….that his guilt is but the fabric of a senseless dream.

Reading carefully, you see what tied my ego brain in knots but seems not to bother my innocent mind: what is said seems contradictory unles you can think non-linear. \”…be healed that you may be forgiving…\” \”Forgiveness is not real unless it brings healing…\” It includes my ego\’s usual sticking point: how can I look out of my head and not see sin? But at the moment, I am at peace with the circular nature of healing and forgiveness as well as the fact that it is the Holy Spirit who looks out of my head and sees innocence. My job is to let Him: both heal and see innocence. Hence is forgiveness accomplished.

Then I went for an hour long run on the hills in the rain. I had on my gortex, temps at 34F and no wind. It was a run worth taking. An hour long run doesn\’t tire the legs at all but does make some endorphins, shuffle the blood around, air out the lungs and freshen the mind.

Then, I zipped up to Mass. They had taken down the Advent colors and put up the Christmas decorations. I wonder why, year after year, the tacky cardboard angels keep showing up on an otherwise very sophisticated layout.

Now, I am at work. The plan is to go to lunch at 11:30 today and not come back until Tuesday. I have no Christmas plans. This year, I won\’t even claim that I will practice contemplation while the rest of the world eats and opens gifts. If I am contemplative at all, it will be in mindlessness as I practice my zen-like core routine. I\’ll do some running, reading, writing and sleeping. I\’ll watch the snow come down and then get out my yak-traks for a snowy run. I\’ll lay low and not interfere with anyone else\’s perception of peace on earth.

et en terra, terra pax…

Atonement

If I accept The Atonement in my heart then there is no need to fear God, everything I think I did has been undone or never was, then I can drop the hate and step into HIS embrace.

The ACIM story behind fear of God mirrors the creation story but is more about the abstract content. There was a tiny mad idea that asked God for specialness. God doesn\’t know specialness so didn\’t give it. The tiny mad idea got mad at God and left heaven; instead trying to make a world where it could be special. Mad at God, the tiny idea feared God and began to hate HIM. The tiny mad idea became afraid of God for its leaving heaven because it thought it took God\’s power. But in the instant the tiny mad idea thought it left, God undid the thought so the mad idea actually never did anything. This world it thought it made is but a dream. Being a dream made by a guilty fearful mad idea who was filled with hate for itself and the misery it made (no wonder that is how I feel deep down inside).

Really really really, proven by science, thoughts create reality and what I see is what I thought.

But if I accept Atonement for myself, my hate, fear and guilt vanish. I go to live in innocence within God\’s embrace. I no longer invest this world with reality but ambivalently watch it as a dream, forever seeing the true innocence behind the dream.

The sticking point is continuing to think I see the world and think it is real. The Holy Spirit helps (following from ACIM text 27.I):

  • Now in the hands made gentle by His touch, the Holy Spirit lays a picture of a different you. It is a picture of a body still, for what you really are cannot be seen nor pictured. Yet this one has not been used for purpose of attack, and therefore never suffered pain at all. It witnesses to the eternal truth that you cannot be hurt, and points beyond itself to both your innocence and his. Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed, and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love. And he will look on his forgiveness there, and with healed eyes will look beyond it to the innocence that he beholds in you.
  • The Holy Spirit’s picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness.
  • Into this empty space, from which the goal of sin has been removed, is Heaven free to be remembered. Here its peace can come, and perfect healing take the place of death.
  • The Holy Spirit offers you, to give to him, a picture of yourself in which there is no pain and no reproach at all. And what was martyred to his guilt becomes the perfect witness to his innocence.

We all seek a way out of here. And God has given everyone a way out. All the ways involve an end of attack on others, an end of the fear of God and an acceptance of God\’s unconditional love for us. Having accepted Atonement, we simply step into the embrace and nothing else matters.

If the baby in the manger means anything, it is a symbol of our true innocence; which resides in each one of use. Innocence is our true content and the forms we think we see are delusions made of the fear of God.