My wife Taya posted another blog, and because I’m such a fan of her writing, I thought I’d share it here. These observations of hers come at the end of a challenging season in the Gray household. Hope you enjoy it.
I took a run this morning. It’s Sunday, so that’s a little unusual for me, but I’ll be traveling pretty consistently for the next 7 weeks so I figured I had better sneak one in. There is something in the landscape of my running route that restores me. There is also a long hill.
About a week ago, Jason told me a story that ended in him saying “Jaime ran for me this morning.” Apparently my friend Jaime Peterson has a hill on her running route too. She was struggling to run the entire length of it and then she decided that the sacrifice and focus it took her to get up the hill might be easier offered if she dedicated it to someone. Someone that’s on her heart, or in her thoughts. So she does. And I’ll bet it’s as good for her getting up that hill as it is for the person on her heart that day.
I thought that was a beautiful idea, but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it for myself. My hill is usually conquered with the help of U2, or Prince. Today , though, as I approached the gradual, boundless incline, I thought I might give Jaime’s idea a try. It is Sunday, after all. “I was working part time at a five and dime, my boss was Mr.MGee” sang Prince. “Ahh, perfect! Prince is just what I need for this hill!” (Forgetting about my idea only a moment before about running up the hill for someone.) There was a lull in the song and I remembered. “Ok, today I’ll run for Jaime. Actually Lauren. And Tim. And Jordan. And Jason, of course. Kristopher, Jacob and Gus. Actually for Kathy. . . and Mark. Today, I’ll run this for Grandma, and Grandpa. For Karla. For Dad. Maybe, actually, Mom. Taryn . . . and Wyatt and Colton. Well, then, also Katy and Logan and Marley. Michelle. Marin, Drew. Bryant. . . . .” Add roughly 20 more on to that list and I found myself beyond the top of the hill, feeling really good! Not doubled over, hyperventilating like I sometimes feel after that long hill. There is absolutely something to be said about transferring our focus from ourselves to others. I mean, heck!, I ran all the way up the hill beyond the top and I didn’t have one moment where I thought I would die, or need to stop, or throw up. I was just suddenly at the top of the hill!
Jaime’s idea is a brilliant one! I paused my ipod since now Prince was merely an intrusion. The top of the hill, after all, is maybe my favorite regularly-visited spot in the world right now. Janesville sets off in the distance. There are fields as far as the eye can see. And then I began to weep, not even realizing why at first. I just assumed I was overcome by the beauty of it all. And it was beautiful. Also beautiful is the fact that not long ago I would stand on that very spot, my heart bruised and broken beyond recognition in a thousand tiny pieces. Grateful for the affliction of the below zero wind-chills, which would somehow seem to numb, or maybe just freeze the pain in me. Some mornings during that season I wept the entire route, only stopping briefly at the crest of the hill so I could look upon the terrible, frozen beauty of the barren landscape – it was so like me. And then in the spring when the fields were lost under floods, I too, felt lost under a great flood. Drowned, drowning. It seems like a lifetime ago. I suppose, in a way, it was.
This morning I looked upon a world of blues and golds. The colors of the harvest season. And a good harvest it will be! The stalks stand taller than I do. I couldn’t help but remember the seasons that came before, for both of us – the fields and me. And now I understood my tears. Gratitude. Gratitude that I am standing at all to measure myself against a golden stalk of corn. Gratitude that at the tip of my height I, too, bear a shock of gold. My heart sits in its rightful place in my chest, though a fragile thing and held together all over by tiny, strong sutures of grace, kindness and great love. It’s good to be a living, breathing thing at the edge of a great harvest. It’s also good to have a list longer than the length of a daunting, steep hill of people to love over. Maybe next time I will be able to pick just one.