Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


Faith’s not a track meet…it’s a marathon- “cooldown” follow up

Author Sarah Ahrens, Written Apr 27, 2015

It felt great to dive back into the Sunday swing of things “head first” yesterday!
A few follow up notes and links from the “Faith’s not a track meet…it’s a marathon” worship service…

First, thanks again to AJ Miller for helping me reveal what was in the Wonder Box, and for Worship Associate Mike Thayer playing the role of Tortoise to perfection.
Speaking of the Tortoise and the Hare story… Normally I like to share the books I pick up from the library as resources and inspiration for the time for all ages.  Yesterday I forgot to put them out but will have them on display this coming Sunday May 3.  I found both classic versions of the Tortoise and the Hare as well as some modern updates- lots of great art too!

Here is the video clip of Chariots of Fire, “You came to see a race today” quote I used.  And you just gotta have the obligatory opening scene with theme music!
P.S. while running barefoot on the beach may look cool, I can attest it is more challenging as finding the stretch that is not too soft nor too hard is tricky!

And for what you may consider Jedi Master Yoda’s exhortation to be more mindful, there is this clip.

There are vast amounts of mindfulness meditation-related resources to be drawn upon.  Anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn was recommended to me.  Some of the specific books I got to read during sabbatical were as follows:
Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment-And Your Life
I also purchased the following app– which I think closely mirrored the mindfulness for beginner’s book, as well as including some guided meditation sessions.  I know…$10 for an app?!  Bu I have gotten a lot of use out of it…
Another book I downloaded but did not read yet is, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.
If you should find yourself on one of the Rutgers University campuses you might avail yourself of the following mindfulness meditation drop-in sessions– I got to attend a couple while I was on sabbatical.

As for running-related books, two that I found incredibly insightful and inspirational are:
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Running and Being: The Total Experience by George Sheehan
Naturally, there are not only book on running and books on mindfulness meditation, there are books on running meditation, or running while meditating, or meditating while running…  I will say for one reason or another these books were a bit of a slog to get through- but was ultimately glad I did because they contained some nuggets of wisdom and suggestions for practice.  I suppose there is only so much reading one can do on running meditation- one has to go out and do it!
Running the Spiritual Path by Roger Joslin
Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham

I mentioned UUCSH’s very own “rUUners” walking/jogging/running group that convenes from time to time to build community while building up a sweat- contact Elizabeth Schulz or Ed Horch for more details- and to get an official tech t-shirt!
While not mindfulness meditation per se, as mentioned by Rob Edgar and myself, the adult faith development series Soul to Soul is a great opportunity for spiritual practice- specifically the art of deeper listening and deeper sharing on various topics and values- and there are opportunities for silent reflection during the sessions as well.  Scroll down here and you can see the spring dates listed for the series beginning May 5.
Moreover, I’ll plug a few UUCSH members and friends that are practitioners and instructors in what might become a spiritual practice for you:
Lori Arrechea for yoga
Bob Beck for tai chi and qi gong (flyer here)
Nancy Fleming for meditation

If you are ALSO inclined to take another step- or many steps- in the physical act of running, you are welcome to join me on Saturday June 6 at any point along the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath.  I’ll be running at a 10:30 minute per mile pace from the Trenton end to the New Brunswick end (34.6 miles total; figured I’d take it “easy” after the 52.4 miles I did in 2014…)- but there are intermittent starting points in between, as well as faster and slower paces- and good eats awaiting you at the end!
If you didn’t get a running quote at the end of service or are curious to see what the others said, here some links to them, and these, and these too.

I mentioned that both running a marathon and mindfulness meditation practice take patience, persistence, and perseverance- wish I had lifted up this moving example of just those qualities!

And just to clarify what I may have made more confusing during my sermon.  I did NOT run in the 2015 Boston Marathon.  I DID run in the 2014 New Jersey marathon, it was my third marathon (2011 Philadelphia, 2012 Portland OR) and my first concerted attempt to qualify for the Boston marathon.  I finished in a time of 3 hours 10 minutes 48 seconds- missing my qualifying time of 3 hrs 10 minutes 0 seconds, by 48 seconds… 🙁  But a new personal record!  I had planned to run the 2015 Ocean Drive marathon as another qualifying attempt but weather and other life circumstances led me to withdraw.  With a second child due to arrive in July my Boston marathon qualifying plan is becoming a bit “extended” shall we say- but at least it only gets “easier” to qualify as one gets older because the time minimums get longer, i.e. from 3 hours and 10 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes…  So you might say I am starting to let go of the concrete goals and learning to be more mindful of each running experience, without kicking myself for missing weekly/annual mileage goals and race times!