Thursday, April 28, 2016

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Running

Well y’all, I did it.

I completed another race!

Okay, by another I mean my third.

In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t that impressive considering it was only a 5K (3+ miles).

But, I did it.

As many of you know, I played baseball in college. Unlike hall of famer Ricky Henderson, I was not known for my speed. In fact, I often heard coach yell, ‘Hey Quine, you’re running like you have a piano on your back!”

Not an Electric Baby Grand Piano, either; the Grandest of Grand Pianos!

Which is why for me, running these races mean so much. It is a goal that I work I can work towards. It is a goal that also helps me stay in shape. When I have a race to prepare for, I become more mindful of how my body is feeling. As time goes on, I am realizing that I not as young as I used to be. Before, I could run three miles without stretching and without much preparation. That isn’t the case anymore.

It takes a lot of work for me. Preparing for a race requires me to think through not only the obvious like, when will I run today, but the more difficult questions regarding health…particularly diet.

Honestly, running a 5k doesn’t require much change in my diet. I can continue to eat poorly, drink high calorie coffee drinks rather than water, eat more fried food than green stuff, and still finish under 30 minutes. Essentially, I can do what I’ve always done and get by with a decent time but with no real change.

That bothers me though.

It bothers me because I have two items on my bucket list I want to cross off soon. They are to run a half marathon and then a full marathon. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

Your pastor has a dream to run a marathon.

The thought of this frightens me…and exhausts me. Which is why up to this point I have not actually pursued signing up for one.

Actually, I never really shared this with anyone.

Usually when the thought comes up, I lie down until it passes.

I scare myself out of doing it with the “what if” questions.

What if I hurt myself?
What if I am the last person to finish?
What if I don’t finish?
What if the race is on a Sunday?
What if that is the day Jesus comes back and I’m at mile eight when he calls everyone back? Talk about a waste of time!

Sure, there are a lot of things to go wrong.

Yet the things that could go wrong do not outweigh the thought of accomplishing such a goal. Ultimately, there is so much good that can come from this. In addition to crossing off an item on my bucket list, my heart and health will benefit from the training. I will have proven to myself that I can do something I only thought about doing.

I’ll discover again, I hope, that I do have what it takes, the discipline, to do something as challenging as this.

There is an obvious connection here to our faith. Love is a discipline and Love requires discipline. It is no accident that the Apostle Paul uses athletic training as a metaphor for the life of faith. In order to achieve the goal, God’s shalom on earth as it is in heaven, we need to commit ourselves to love.

But as in preparing for a race, love is not easy. It demands that we persevere, endure, and push past our weariness as we approach the finish line. It may mean changing adapting our training so that we can get past the three miles that we’ve always run. This may require getting off the course normally used and the route always taken.

Ultimately, the metaphor of preparing for a race makes sense to me because while I could run a 5k and be completely content, I know I can run both a half and a full marathon. It may not look pretty, it may take me a few days between start and finish, but I can do it.

Settling isn’t an option. There is more in my tank. Though I’ve never done training, like, training for a race, does not mean I can’t. It will be foreign to me and I know I’ll struggle with it, but it will help me accomplish a goal.

So I guess what I am saying is this:  I’ve set a new goal for myself and I’m embarking on an exciting new endeavor.

As I run and begin preparations, this will be my mantra and I hope you will say it with me. It is the opening lines from David Whyte’s poem Start Close In.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.
(Italicized emphasis is the poet’s)

Guess all there is left to do is to sign up for that race…

My cousin Aaron and me at the WORLD famous Wrigley Field
marquee post race. Again, Aaron pushed me and stayed with
me the whole race...until I told him, after we ran through
the concourse at Wrigley, that he better beat me. He more
than a few seconds! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Through Stained Glass: Time's Fun When You're Having Flies...

Above is a picture taken from behind the clock at Le Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

My friend Jeremy took this photo.

It has become one of my favorites from the last year’s adventure to the City of Lights.

If not because it reminds me of the wonderful and timeless pieces of art I saw, but also because I had such a great time.


This picture reminds me of the time I spent sauntering down the streets listening to street musicians, contemplating paintings walls, and enjoying, like really enjoying, all the food I ate.

I guess you could say it was the time of my life!

Confession to you all, my dear readers:  I’ve been functioning as if time is running out.

This state of mind has me rushing through just about every activity.

From as informal activities such as reading and writing to more professional activities as meetings and even leading worship, I’ve had my foot on the accelerator doing my best to save time in order to have more time….




So, before I go any further, I apologize for rushing. I apologize for being in such a hurry that we do not get to be together in a complete way. While I do not believe we’ve wasted our time, I do believe I have not honored your time entirely.


It is something not meant to be wasted or killed (I can’t stand that expression by the way and think it is time we retire it!). Instead, time is to be embraced and enjoyed. Time is a gift.

What has me thinking about time was a meditative moment for Monday mornings in one of my prayer books. The instructions for today was this:

Pause to look at the clock, and think about the mystery of time. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, is God’s gift of time. It is a gift unearned, simply given.


We all have time. Sometimes we run out of time. At times we feel as if we don’t have enough time. Yet we say to some they have too much time. As one philosopher has said, “The times, they are a changing.”

Time flies.

Kermit the Frog said it best, “Time’s fun when your having flies.”

You might want to read that a second time…

Whatever time it is for you, take time.

Call time out.

Or time in.

Take the time you need.

As you do remember time is a part of our faith journey.

Ecclesiastes reminds us everything has its time.
            A time to be born, and a time to die…
            A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…
            A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…
            A time to keep, and a time to throw away…
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”

Time is a gift.

Take time to be. I give you permission to take as much time as you need today to do whatever brings you life.

I encourage you to be mindful of your time.

Because there is no better time than now…