Distance: 4.53 miles Time: 40’13” (PB 39’ 39”)
I almost never had to say this to a running partner!
Usually it is quite the reverse. Usually it is them heading off towards the horizon and me chugging and puffing like a terminally ill steam train desperately trying to keep them in sight!
This particular phrase started spinning around my head because I had just heard it at a Taizé worship/meditation event at Our Lady and St Nicholas, Wanlip; just before I went running.
Stay with me.
Remain here with me.
Watch and pray.
Watch and pray.
The thing about Taizé music is that it gets into your head, it just starts spinning around and takes on a life of its own.
It leads you into meditation in an often surprising way.
As I was led into this I suddenly realised that I had been misunderstanding the song completely.
The words are based on those of Jesus to His disciples in Matt 26:38. About to be betrayed and endure His trial, torture, and death, He asks the disciples to watch and pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
However, I had always thought that the song was using those words as a prayer that we addressed to God, asking Him to stay with us. But it suddenly dawned on me that actually it’s the reverse.
For any desire for God, has its origin in God.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them
So every prayer has its origin in the heart of God.
If ever we feel like we want to pray, that in itself, is irrefutable and incontrovertible evidence of God, at work in us.
And God’s desire is simply that we stay with Him. And not just for 5 minutes in the morning, or for an hour on a Sunday, or for one week a year in a spiritual retreat.
No, God’s desire is nothing less than that we spend each day, all day, every day in His presence; that we ‘be’ with Him.
I invite you to listen to the Taizé song and respond to God’s call to your heart – to stay with Him.
 John 6 :44 NIVUK
Distance: 4.53 miles Time: 40’12”
Time 39’ 09” New PB (Previous 39’ 39”)
Running is a primeval thing. Shortly after mankind started to walk we started to run.
Running is not just utilitarian. It doesn’t just get us from A to B faster than walking, it can also be a very natural and very pure expression of joy in living. If you want to see the reality of this walk past any Primary School at playtime! I guarantee that not one child enters the playground at a walk; rather it is an explosion of joyful exuberance in life.
Perhaps it is due to the primeval nature of running that we often feel moments of Connection when we are doing it.
- Connection with nature, a sense of being one with the landscape we are in.
- Connection with other runners. This is perhaps very natural and merely down to our common experience and shared enjoyment; but maybe also there is a mystical component as we Connect with our running ancestors’ and their experience of running?
This thought of Connecting reminded me of Charles Williams. He was one of the Inklings – that group of writers and poets that included J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis – all of whom are my heroes.
Charles had the distinction of being the oddest of an odd bunch! He was a poet, a novelist and a theologian.
In his theological writings ran along the raggedy edge of orthodoxy, always threatening to fall off into heresy, but always just pulling himself back (or being pulled back?) into orthodoxy.
One of his ideas chimes with my sense of the connections we make in running, it is the theology of Co-Inherence.
Co-Inherence might be defined as a sense that things exist in essential relationship with each other, and as innate components of each other.
He developed this theology from the biblical text;
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
He felt that this might have a mystical meaning beyond the natural sense of mutual support. Williams felt that people could agree to share, by mutual consent, specific physical and emotional pain.
It is an interesting idea and what parent, seeing their child suffer, would not wish that it were true; perhaps it is.
But if it is true then it is merely a further aspect of the Connection that we feel in many different situations.
And the primal act of running seems to open us up to at least some of these; which makes it rather more of a mystical act than is generally thought.
 Galatians 6 :2 NIVUK
Distance: 4.53 miles Time: 40’15”
A ‘moment’ with a cyclist this morning.
We were travelling down parallel paths, I was turning left and he was turning right. Unfortunately we were both on the opposite side to our intended direction.
We came together – after he did an impressive skid – I was for a short while, mounted upon his handlebars!
All ended amicably with no harm done and no-one ended up on the floor – which was good.
As I reflected upon it I thought how that incident is a metaphor for the cultural conflict we are seeing between what is now a functionally atheistic society and the Christian Church.
We are getting cross-wise on so many issues because we are heading in opposite directions.
The Christian faith hasn’t changed, but society is massively changing as it jettisons the Judeo-Christian values that underpinned its laws, morality and ethics for much of the past 2000 years.
Those commonly held values (i.e. held in common by the whole of society, or at least the majority) were a very solid base for promoting behaviour that had social benefit.
Telling people to do, or not to do something because God tells them not to, is a much more concrete, convincing and immutable proposition than telling them to behave in certain ways because some evolutionary biologists think that this might be the most successful approach for humankind; particularly when other evolutionary biologists/philosophers would state the contrary.
People are primarily ego-centric, traditionally faiths promote social benefit and harmony by discouraging such selfishness and promoting altruism. People are encouraged to behave in counter-intuitive ways because of God. Primarily because it is behaviour that pleases Him and promotes our relationship with Him; and on a secondary level, because He promises to bless and reward such conduct – in this life or the next.
However, from an atheistic evolutionary perspective what is the engine that would promote positive behaviour? The argument that sometime, aeons in the future, when I am a long forgotten memory, humanity might be doing ever so slightly better for me having made a good choice?
Hardly an argument that carries much force is it?
Particularly when the Nietzschens would argue that grinding the faces of the weak into the dust, if not euthanasing them outright, is the better option for the powerful, as it prevents ‘junk’ DNA from replicating.
Given such stark differences it is perhaps not surprising to see the widening gap between rich and poor in all the functionally atheistic countries of the world.
The clash between the Christian faith and secular society over a wide variety of issues – sex, justice, power, morality – is inevitable. We are heading in opposite directions. We are bound to get cross-wise.
Those Christians who capitulate whenever societies values conflict with Christian ones, will soon have no Christianity left.
Rolling over and exposing your throat on every issue will not bring an end to the conflict, it will merely hasten your total defeat.
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13 NIV)