The Sacred Anniversary

This past December 10th - just a few weeks ago now - was an anniversary of sorts for me. The word “anniversary” is from the Latin anniversarius meaning “returning yearly.”

At first, I thought this is not the kind of event I want to remember yearly. One year ago on that date, I head out for a run in my neighborhood about 7 a.m. It is a frigid 23 degrees (I despise being cold) and I am wearing the new running clothes I have gotten for my birthday just a few days before. It is a bright Friday morning and I am starting with my clients a little later than usual.

On this morning, I circle around a block that is not part of my usual route. I want to make the run a little longer today. As usual, I am noticing the sights and sounds of a crisp morning. I am noticing how my body feels at the pace I’ve set. And then the horizon becomes crooked, in fact it is moving. No, no wait - something isn’t quite right - I am falling!

A neighbor’s sprinkler system, which apparently was on a timer, had come on and left a frozen puddle in the street. I am not expecting it and Wham! Bam! Down I go! I have no idea what has happened until I lift my head and notice I am spread-eagle, flat on my back, on a frozen patch of water.

As I lie there on that cold, unyielding asphalt - I wait a minute or so to attempt getting upright - I wonder if I will have to put my training on hold - how bad am I hurt? I know once I stand up, if I can, I will have more questions and the answers will come slow, just like my recovery.

I had fractured by sacrum. Yes, one of the hardest bones in our body, which the ancients considered holy or sacred. That moment was one of those keenly inscribed moments that signifies before and after on my life’s timeline. 

When I run in my neighborhood, I notice things such as who is moving in or out; who has one of those big wooden storks in the front yard announcing whether a baby boy or a baby girl has arrived to some lucky parents. I experience all the seasons through my neighbors’ flowers, piles of leaves, Christmas lights and garden parties. I am a part of something larger that is important to me - my community.

When I run with my posse or my friends we go with each other to relational, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual depths. I am not always about time when I run. I am about being grateful, praying, nourishing myself for whatever lies ahead. It’s training for life not a race as a mentor once told me. Running is like taking a deep breathe for my soul. Something I hold sacred.

Now, suddenly any race plans or personal goals vanish and the only thing that matters is that I can't put my running shoes on, go outside, and put one foot in front of the other at any pace. How will I stay connected to my running community, how will I stay connected to my neighborhood?

I did what running has taught me. I paced myself. I practiced patience. I stretched more. I reminded myself to be grateful for the health and strength to rehab my way back to the road, my neighborhood and my friends. I reminded myself, even while healing, I am a runner. And running has made me physically, emotionally and spiritually stronger. What can be more sacred than that?

What do you hold sacred? I’d like to know.