Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I've read this before, but it sits and sits and sits with me today.

Galatians 5:19-26, The Message

19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Monday morning. Less than 24 hours until my mom sets foot on Australian soil, and I am heading out for a run.

I pull on my black track pants, white Hanes t-shirt, navy blue hoodie (which is getting smaller and smaller due to the wash) and my nikes. My nikes used to be neon green and white, but since our combined 19 Kilometer hikes in the Outback, they are now tinted slightly orange. I bid Mel goodbye, as she gets ready to catch the CBD train to the city and head outside.

A quick glance at the clay pavers outside shows that it's been raining this morning and it's fairly cloudy now. I throw up a quick prayer that it won't rain while I'm out, and hit the pavement.

All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus.

Britney's silly lyrics ring in my ears as I set my pace to one of my favorite tunes by her. She's not bad to run to, I think. I run down Garnet towards Bay Street, which then heads to the beach. I suppose it would be more accurate to describe Brighton-le-Sands as a bay.

Why does love always feel like a battlefield, a battlefield/You better go an get your armour.

I mentally thank Drew for sending me this recommendation, as it's another great song to run to. I don't love Jordin Sparks, but it's pretty decent. I run past the bus stop and there are about 10 people gathered, waiting to hitch a ride into the city. Yesterday was technically the first day of winter in Australia, and thankfully, the days are getting longer now! These people are dressed appropriately for Sydney's winter: layers, layers and more layers. A run under an umbrella that an elderly lady is holding in my way, as the sidewalk is far too narrow to run around her. She smiles at me and I smile back.

Right as I near the 'downtown' of Brighton-le-Sands, where the cafes, boutiques, and coffee shops start, it starts sprinkling. I dodge in and out of the raindrops beneath the covered sidewalk and the streets, and I start calculating my route in my head. I'm not sure how far I want to run in the rain. Sprinkles aren't bad, but Sydney is quite schizo in it's weather, so one can never be sure whether sprinkles will turn into a downpour. I'm already quite hot in my hoodie, so I decide to run until it gets unbearable. I'm only at the first mile of three, anyway. It's a mile back home, so I might as well run a bit farther.

I wait at the longest light ever, where Bay Street meets General Holmes Drive. This is one street I haven't figured out how to jay walk yet, since the lights and arrows go at all kinds of crazy times. I rest from my run as the sprinkles continue. Finally, the light changes and I run to the boardwalk, which runs parallel to the bay.

Just dance, gonna be okay...

As I run away from the city, Lady Gaga is ringing in my ears. As appropriate, this song always makes me want to dance. The rain is very slight now, and the sun is coming out. I run along the morning traffic and I notice half of a rainbow over the sand just in front of me. Suddenly, I am chasing this rainbow. I want to run beneath it! I then notice that it is a complete rainbow, passing from the sand, over the road, and beyond to an area I cannot see. I run and I run and I run, but it's always just out of reach. I thank God for Him, for the rainbow, for His love. The rainbow puts me in an even better mood than I'm already in, which is hard to conceive.

At my 1.5 mile marker, I surrender to my humanity and give up on running beneath the rainbow. I am still curious about what that water-prismatic-illusion looks like from directly beneath, but I could be pursuing this rainbow for many kilometers.

If I could bottle up the sea breeze/I would take it over to your house/And pour it loose through your garden.

I desperately wish it was the summer.

I turn back, running down the asphalt path for bikers and runners, seeing nobody along the way. It is rather enjoyable to run alone this morning, though part of me does miss Mel. There is something about being solo which makes you appreciate your surroundings much more. There are no waves to crash upon the shore, so the sounds are purely man-made this morning. I finally pass three guys who are heading into work, running between them as they obstruct the running path entirely. I smile at them, happy with life.

"I want to get away/I want to fly away/Yeah, yeah."

I run down the ramp to the beach, gearing up for the hardest part of the run. I laugh aloud at the song playing, as a plane is taking off from the airport just across the bay. I love irony, I love coincidence like this. I run after the plane, challenged by its speed. My mind envisions an explosion of the plane, the horror of seeing it, being thrown back onto the sand by the sight, the sound and the reality of it. It's even more repulsive since my mom is currently flying towards me in Australia. I am grateful that this morbid vision is only in my head, but I wonder why I imagine such odd things.

The city looms in front of me, about 20 kilometers away, hazy in the early morning rainshine. I am careful to avoid the green John Deere tractor that is combing the beach, and I head to the part just by the water. I hurdle over the net, which I assume is either for jellyfish or sharks, thrust forward by my magnificent and powerful legs.

I realize about halfway down the beach that the non-combed area is packed down due to the rain, so I run up the beach a few meters to the softer sand. What is the point of running on the beach if you aren't using your core to stabilize? The tractor has gone back to it's post now, as the driver has completed his rounds. I give it a final effort and then find myself standing on the far edge of the boardwalk. I rest for a minute, watching the beach workers storing the tractor and preparing for the rest of the cleanup.

I don't wanna be a maybe, Baby let me drive you crazy, I wanna be your dandelion

The sun is coming out more fully and I stand watching the runway at Kingsford Smith Airport. I am entranced by the landing and the take-offs of the many planes. There is a Qantas 747 on the runway, and I keep hoping to see it take off. The smaller jets commence take off far sooner than the large ones, and I want to see the 747 make it just to the end of the runway before pulling up its wheels and turning on its thrusters. Exhilaration.

But alas, it's not meant to be. It's apparently, even after 5 minutes, still 2nd in line for take off, pushed even farther back by the incoming planes. And so, I wave adieu to the 747, wishing its travelers a safe journey.

I run back through Brighton-le-Sands, which is less busy now that rush hour is a bit farther behind us. I weave in and out of the elderly people who wander through downtown, purchasing a bit of fruit, a newspaper, or coffee. I look longingly at the only convenience store to house A&W root beer in Sydney, but keep running because my money is at home.

Yesterday I had a dream I could fly through the sky/Then I woke up in a sweat, not dead yet but on the ground/I'm up in Johnson City Tennessee/Looking for the wind in me/Lord fly me over Pontchartrain/Back to the land of sugar cane and summer rain.

As I wait at yet another light (how these lights slow down my run!), listening to my favorite song from my favorite movie (Love Song for Bobby Long), I watch two kids in a double-decker stroller across the busy road. Their grandfather (I assume) is decked out in a yellow Nike shirt and black track pants, looking as impatient as I at these slow, slow crossing signals. The boy in front is actually the only one I can see, but I think there's a little girl in the back. He looks to be 2 or 3, decked out in a red gap shirt, blue jeans, with an army green truck on his lap. I think that his parents must have been to the States, as there is certainly no Gap store in Australia. I watch as he babbles on to his inattentive grandfather about the truck that is speeding by in front of him. The green man FINALLY flashes across from me, and I start my run back up again, passing them on the way over. I momentarily wonder how grandpa plans to get the kids in their non-boat stroller over the river of water that I just hurdled, but I don't look back to find out.

Someone tell me how I feel/Its silly wrong but vivid right/Oh, kiss me like a the final meal/Yeah, kiss me like we die tonight.

I am THRILLED that my current favorite song by Elbow has randomly popped up in my shuffle at the end of my run. I pass Garnet street, and turn left down Aboukir, extremely happy to notice that there are simply no more clouds in the sky to rain down upon us in Sydney. A blue sky on the second official day of winter: I can't complain. This has been a great run.

As Elbow notes, farther along in the song, "Oh, anyway, it's looking like a beautiful day."


About Me

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I live amongst the dragons and the warriors of the 21st century. I surround myself with both the peasants, the aristocrats; the knights and the maidens. For a long time (now quite in the past), I wove the structure of my life around the mold others saw for me. I've since learned to live for God and myself. Freedom comes and goes as I remember this lesson of mine. But my life is MY life: a series of events and remembering such. And this, this beautiful montage, is why I wake up every morning. God willing.