Leaves are starting to change. Cooler temps transform that first sip of coffee into a warm embrace. And as we all reach for cozy sweaters, many of us also grab those running shoes that have sat dormant during the scorching days of summer. A morning run in the fall has its own brand of effervescence.
If you like to run, what’s your routine? Stretching? Coffee? Mapping out your run? What if running could strengthen your soul as much as your body? How do you prep for that?
Even if you are “not the running type,” I invite you to expand your perspective of any ordinary aspect of your life with this exercise. Life with God is an adventure that predominantly dwells in the riches of the mundane, and there are few things that remind me of my ordinary, earthly existence like a morning run. The body cranks sweat out of every pore. Muscles and joints and lungs burn. And the spirit seems to grow quiet.
I wonder if some of the greatest acts of cultivating our attention toward God’s always-and-forever presence is not by merely rehearsing good ideas but by entering recurring prayer. What if the same way we put on the same shoes for a daily run, we prayed the same prayer before running, slowly allowing our souls to mold in the repetition? What would we notice about God? What would we notice in ourselves? Who would we become mile by mile?
For those who run or walk, for those who have been meaning to run or walk, for those who want to care for their bodies and souls, I hope this prayer opens our eyes in strides.
A liturgy for an early morning run
This prayer is best when you couple it with the physical act of putting on running shoes, paying attention to the grip of the shoe on each foot and the tightness of the laces.
Lord, you have crafted these toes reaching out from these feet connected to these ankles,
syncing with calves, knees, and hips to run; you move all of me.
Today I join the wind, a sacrament of your invisible presence gracing these quiet streets.
May I remember I was made to run with you.
Not ahead — as if I could leave you behind
Nor behind — as if I must try to catch up.
Only breathing — with.
The syncopated in — hale, ex — hale with each midfoot strike
a reminder of your Spirit kissing my soul,
The sunrise and her shadows a reminder that you, Lord, hold it all together,
The sound of birds a reminder that the Father’s eye is on the soaring sparrow.
May my run be an act of devoted attention,
Not an escape from your world,
But a seeing service in the world.
awaken my heart
passing in front of homes exhausted by an erratic world,
while aching for the homeless trampled by the world.
awaken my mind
listening to podcasts, books, music,
and praying prayers with the world.
awaken my hands
surrendering what I must carry,
freed to wave at each day laborer for the world.
God, in this early hour, I run with you,
and I know you are with me,
closer than these well-crafted shoes,
each step of the way.