Monday, November 12, 2012

A run through the neighborhood

I love running outside around our neighborhood.  Besides the fact that I love the fresh air, the wind on my face and the sense that I am actually going somewhere, I love getting to know my neighborhood.  It is different knowledge running slowing through my neighborhood physically seeing each house, tree and crack in the road than to quickly drive by.  When I drive I see the houses and the trees and the road but I don't really see them.

As I start my mile loop I walk by the first of several patches in the cement road and see BJ's initials.  I don't know who BJ is but in the '80's this kid made his mark on the neighborhood road patches.  I usually start my run at the big pine tree in the yard across from my friend Judy's house.  As I go around the corner the face on the tree of her neighbor always makes me smile.  I run a gentle downhill slope for several blocks noticing how different each of the homes are.

It took several months of running by one of the homes to figure out he had a business in his garage and after a few more months I figured out that he does iron work.  Which also explains why he has so much beautiful iron work around his house.  I wave at him as I run by although we have never spoken.  But I have stolen a few lilacs off his bushes in the spring.  Shh don't tell.

As I loop around and turn to go back up hill I hit the part of the road that could use some new patches and have learned where to veer right or left to avoid twisting my ankle and having to hobble home.  I contemplate the names of the streets, Susan and Lois Lane (the second never stops being funny), and I wonder who the women were that the roads were named after.  I imagine they are the daughters or wives of men who wanted to honor them as they were developing the area.  I know where the fire hydrant at the crest of the first steep hill back toward home is, the one I fix my eyes on when I am pushing up that hill.  And I know that even though the rest of the run back to my house looks relatively flat, it is actually a gentle uphill climb and when your legs are tired it can feel like a cliff.

Then I turn down the horseshoe road my friends live on.  Although I don't know everyone on my street, I know most of the women on this block.  I think of and pray for these women and these friendships as I run down this block.

As the road curves around I run by the park.  The place where I told Jake we were adopting Isabelle because he was such an awesome kid we wanted to experience that awesomeness again.  Where Isabelle and I have spent hours and hours both alone and with friends, a place where we reconnect with neighbors on those first warm days in May when we all come out of hibernation and flock to the park.

I can see some of that just driving by but the connection I have with my neighborhood because I slowly run through it, seeing, experiencing and taking time to think about each thing is so much stronger.

I am currently reading the book of Isaiah in my quiet time.  The other day I came across the very classic Christmas passage, "For to us a child is given, to us a son is born..."  I knew it was in Isaiah, I have heard it and read it many times.

The bible is a big book, and it is confusing and sometimes it doesn't make sense or doesn't seem relevant to my life.  That is especially true as I read Isaiah or the genealogies in Numbers or dozens of other passages.  Yes, everything in the bible is relevant and the inspired word of God useful for teaching, rebuking and training in righteousness (2Tim3:16) blah, blah, blah. But when I read it doesn't always feel that way.  I am not a theology student, I don't study the details.  I do rely on other people who have but on a day to day basis I just want to know how this applies to my life today, this morning, right now as I read before the family wakes up and the crazy circus that is my life begins.

I realized reading Isaiah slowly, one chapter at a time, that I am getting to know it in a whole new way.  Like getting to know my neighborhood on a run.  I have driven by Isaiah many times,  I have been to some of the homes along the way but I don't really know Isaiah.  I had never read that passage in context, I am not great with specific references and couldn't have told you where in Isaiah it was.  A general idea will probably get you to the right passage in Ephesians but Isaiah has 66 chapters, I wasn't going to stumble upon it.  If I don't know the whole book and how it is put together I could never pull this verse up with any efficiency.  But now I know it is in chapter 9, and specifically it is near the beginning of Isaiah.

Yesterday as I came across that familiar passage foretelling the birth of Christ in Isaiah I thought about how connected I felt to it as I read it in context, as I slowly walked by it rather than flying over it.  I have beamed directly to it before, I flew over it a few years ago when I was reading the bible in a year and just getting through my daily reading but, yesterday I got to know it.  There is certainly value in just focusing on one verse and I loved the overview of the bible I got the year I read it all.  But yesterday I realized how much I am really getting to know the bible by just walking through the neighborhood, taking my time and seeing and experiencing the details.  I love when I come to a verse that really inspires and speaks to me in my reading, like bumping into an old or new friend on my runs but some days it is just about exercising and getting to know the neighborhood and being strengthened for a new day.

So today I learned that even though not every book, chapter or passage I read in my slow walk around the bible feels significant, I am getting to know the bible, and in doing that I am drawing closer to the Lord the author and resident of this book.  And really that is why I pick up my bible each morning.

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