Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27 ESV
A Boy. A Bridge. A Body Bag.
Not necessarily in that order. Nor are they related. Or are they?
My training for the Portland Half-Marathon had me walking 9 miles yesterday. I decided to include the up and back. Two and a half miles down an industrial train-lined route, which was, of course on a Sunday, like a ghost town. And then the two and a half miles back. And I had added two miles to get there and two miles to get back. Boring.
But I had my boy with me. We called him "my bodyguard." He was on his bike for the 9 miles. Following me. Watching me. Sometimes interacting. Sometimes not. Not really a boy anymore. But someone who could help protect me if needed. Of course, I would give up my life for his. But that wasn't necessary yesterday.
Nine miles by myself really. Quiet. Time to think. Time to listen to Mark Batterson's "Wild Goose Chase." And a little TobyMac. But mostly to think.
I have been wondering about what I have learned through this process of training my body to walk 13.1 miles. I mean... let's be serious... I could walk 13.1 miles without training, so what's the point of training? And a couple things have come to mind:
1. When I receive my medal, it won't be for walking the 13.1 miles that day. It will be for the weeks spent training. It will be a medal for completing my training.
2. My recuperation from the half-marathon will be much quicker because I have trained my body to recover throughout the weeks of training.
Of course, this leads me to spiritualization of my training. How important it is to train ourselves. To be in shape spiritually. Fortunately, I know when the date of the half-marathon is, but this isn't true for the major "marathons" in our spiritual lives.
But then I started to think about the spectators that will be cheering me on in less than 2 weeks. And the water tables. And the musicians along the route. And I wondered why we applaud this type of behavior. I mean what I do in my mentoring of women is much more important and life changing than me walking 13.1 miles with thousands of other people. And there are no medals for that. And definitely no water tables. Although it is immensely more valuable.
Then we had about 1 mile left to go. We were on the waterfront at that point headed towards the Hawthorne Bridge. There were people cleaning up the Saturday Market (which is also held on Sunday). There was a ton of Canadian Geese that looked like they were in huge cages because the city had put up fences around all the new grass seed they had put down along the walkway. And then we noticed the crime scene tape.
The tape blocked our path. We had to go around. Which as you can imagine was not something I wanted to do. I did not want to add any more distance to my walk. But with the six police vehicles parked in the grass and the forensics truck, we knew we needed to go around.
Of course, we are gawkers. Just like the others standing there. Wondering. Why would there be six police vehicles and a forensics truck in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park today? On this most beautifully amazing day along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon?
And then we saw it.
A body bag.
And Christopher asked if body bags were white.
I wasn't sure because just the other night we were watching "Yukon Men"
and the body bag they had was yellow.
But then there was a darker bag pulled around the white one.
And you knew by the customary zipper across the top that it was a body bag.
And that there was like a gurney underneath.
That someone had lost their life today.
Someone whom I had most likely passed by earlier that day.
Perhaps I thought they were taking a nap on a bench?
I can't find anything on the Internet about it.
And why wasn't there an ambulance?
So here is me and my bodyguard. And a body bag. And this is life. Me training to walk a half-marathon. And on a gorgeous day in Portland along a scenic route in a very public place... someone has died.
What to do? What to say? We don't even know.
And we keep going.
Until we are under the Hawthorne Bridge where I remember that there is an 8x10 poster of Jesus. And I want to take a photo of it. Because it would make an interesting photo for Instagram. Or a blog post. And so I take the photo.
And I wonder how it all fits together.
A Boy who is my bodyguard. A Bridge with a picture of Jesus. And a Body Bag.
And all I can think is that without Jesus I wouldn't know what to think. I figure Jesus knows what is going on. And so I pray. Asking him to help me put it all together. If it needs to go together. Or at least to give me peace and words to say to my bodyguard that might bring him comfort.
I think my brain gets more of a workout on these long walks then my legs do.
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you.
The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you.
He will remind you of all the things I have told you.
I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you.
I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—
feeling abandoned, bereft.
So don’t be upset.
Don’t be distraught."
John 14:25-27 MSG