Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back on My Feet

It's a phenomenon that is happening more often than I like. Just before Christmas, I shared that a romantic comedy made me cry. This morning, an article in Runner's World is making me pause every few paragraphs to avoid bursting into full-out tears.

Yesterday was one of those strange magazine days. I found both the February and March issues of Runner's World in my mailbox. And not wanting to get ahead of myself, I've been paging through February while sneaking jealous glances at the March issue. That is, until I settled in on this story.

I turned to the middle first, where I saw a funny pull-quote: "It's like I'm doing a butt-lick." Solomon yelled. The runner beside him looked puzzled. "I mean fartlek!"

What on earth kind of story inspires that kind of quote? I paged back. "The first time Mike Solomon smoked crack, he ran."

Surely this isn't a story telling runners they should start drugs...

Course not. It's a story about a running ministry. A group of homeless men led by a Crazy Running Girl, who believes training for a half marathon will help them get back on their feet -- hence their name "Back on My Feet."

You can read the story online here.

A little under a year ago, I accidentally provided the catalyst for an ecumenical clergy group -- men and women who meet once a month at the Salvation Army shelter. We talk about the needs of the shelter and folks who are staying there -- and the ones who are unable to get in. We talk about how our churches can get involved.

I'm not entirely sure the shelter needs us -- the woman who essentially runs the place is an incredibly gifted person. She is passionate about the people who set foot in her "home" and loves them dearly. I'm convinced anyone who hears her speak would immediate do anything in their power to help -- so she hardly needs a group of haphazard clergy and a goofy religious reporter (that would be me) to motivate church members.

But we need them. We need to be reminded that our daily actions have an impact on how others live -- or don't live. We need to step into the shelter and see the artwork on the walls and hear the stories of the individuals who rely on the location where we meet for their next meal; for their home of being back on their feet.

Back on My Feet and the Friends of the Salvation Army Coalition remind me that we all need someone to count on. We all need to know someone is with us. Whether that is a fellow runner or someone who sacrifices her time to sit beside you in a hospital room and rejoice with you on the good days.

The folks of BOMF (as they call it) have learned that there are no shortcuts in the world of distance running. The road knows when you've put the miles in. And the same is true in life. We can accomplish amazing things when we take that first step and put in the hard work of living well.