Friday, April 19, 2013

Run For Joy

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, and as the Sioux Falls Argus Leader has reported, I am going for a run for the sake of joy this weekend, and you're invited to join me, here or wherever you are.

The prophets knew this thousands of years ago: we become like what we worship.  We might think we don't worship, but I'm here to tell you that the way you spend your life is the way you worship. We all worship.  Each of us ascribes worth to things by giving our time, our money, and our attention to them.

It's tempting to give our attention to monsters, to worship the devils that the news cameras follow breathlessly through the streets.  It is tempting to worship our fears, to let the things that could steal, or maim, or kill become the focus of our attention.  It is tempting to hold the horrors in our hearts until we form them into perfect idols.  If that weren't tempting, the news would look very different.

Avoiding idolatry - by which I mean worshiping things that are not worthy of our precious lives and attention - takes a conscious and sustained effort.

It requires us to remember not the horror but the joy.  It requires us to give up the cramped life of fear and to stretch ourselves in the exuberance of being alive, of having a body.

At their best, this is what marathons are about: exultation in the gift of living an embodied life.

So run with me.  Shake off the terrors, and feel your muscles, your bones, your sinewed vitality.  Wherever you are, get out there and feel a little of what the marathoners were feeling as they ran, the hard-earned joy of running, the joy of feeling alive with other people.  


I'm not collecting money, but I encourage you also to give a donation to an organization of your choosing that cares for those who suffer.  I'm going to give to the Red Cross and the United Way. Because I think that love for neighbor is a worthwhile thing to focus my attention on, and giving my money helps to focus my attention.

And while you're at it: turn off the news and think about this: what is bringing you joy today?  How are you bringing joy to others today?  As someone wise once said, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."


Let me add that I'm not an accomplished runner, so don't expect me to lead the pack.  This will be a run, not a race.  If you want to walk with us, push a stroller, or whatever lets you feel the joy of being alive, come and join us.  Bring your joy.


  1. Yes, I am receiving the nudge to joyfully join in even though I live across the United States and likewise am "not an accomplished runner." Do I hear the "Chariots of Fire" music swelling up in the background, making it hard to resist the prophetic insight that "we become like what we worship." Who do I worship? What does my life testify? Who do I "fear"?

    Thank-you for the invitation. I'll keep you updated :)

  2. Wonderful, Tom! Whatever you wind up doing, I hope it's something that brings you and your community joy. I like to think that when great joy is set before us - when our eyes are fixed upon it - we might endure all sorts of pain and look upon everything else with scorn. Keep your eyes on the prize!