By Karen Pullano
Greetings – I hope you have missed me! I’m finally getting back to my computer and writing from the land of snot and viruses. Despite my lapse, I hope you haven’t completely forgotten all about me!
Well, the bad news is that it’s been a busy, and sometimes difficult, few months. Anna’s birthday, following on the heels of the holidays, really threw me for a loop. Read how I found my bearings again on Godversations “Dressed for Battle”. Just in time too, as Lent is upon us and the anniversary of Anna’s death is on March 2nd. I am dressed for battle!!
The good news is that I have experienced first-hand, once again, the total Love, Power, and Grace of God as He and our Lady personally walked me out of the valley and set me back on the path up the mountain. The Lord is always at work on me, giving me ever more to learn.
Needless to say, I have been digging deep into prayer on the topic of suffering and have lots to share with you all. You might be surprised to know that some of my best prayer these days has been born from great physical discomfort.
The truth is that I decided it was time to get my butt off the couch and start exercising again. (I’ve milked the am pregnant/have a newborn/am breastfeeding excuse for 18 months now and finally had enough of my little kids patting my tummy and asking when the baby is coming out.) So, in short order, I jumped on my treadmill and started running.
Now, I must give the disclaimer that I am in no way an actual ‘runner.’ I don’t love it, am not built for it, and was in no way prepared for actual running, but rather saw it as the quickest and shortest means to the end. Nose to the grindstone, let’s just get ‘er done. Being a busy mom, I had the brilliant idea to multitask and nourish the soul while
abusing taking care of the body. With Anna’s crucifix on the wall before me, and a podcast of the rosary playing, I embarked on a new journey.
It’s been several weeks now and I am amazed at what I have learned on this new quest. Runners, non-runners, and wanna-be runners, I bring you my “Reflections from the Treadmill” series. I think everything you need to know about suffering can be learned on this beastly device…
Once I decided to start running, I was excited and ready to blast off, full steam ahead! I knew I would soon be reaping all the great benefits of exercise and losing weight. I was happy to be getting my prayer time in; I know from experience how critical it is to have an organized prayer routine. I could practically feel my heart pumping healthier just thinking about it. So, I just did it. I started running. And for about 45 seconds there were choir bells chiming in my head and imagined crowds cheering and celebrating. It felt like I had overcome a tremendous hurdle just to get on that machine and here I was actually running! After a minute I realized that I was a bit winded. Then my legs were getting a little heavy. Two minutes in and there was pain and pounding in the vicinity of my heart. Cramps were seizing my legs. I couldn’t hold my core muscles in tight anymore and my back was starting to hurt. I realized maybe I had counted my chickens a little before they hatched. I had no idea how I would ever get through. I wanted to speed up, so it would be over faster, but faster would have resulted in certain death. If I tried slowing down, it would have just prolonged the agony. What to do? I had set a goal and was determined to make it on my big day #1. There was only one choice in order to make my goal and that was to just keep running. Persevere. Endure.
When we have crosses and trials to bear there are times the weight is crushing. I know I have had moments during my deepest grief of wondering how I would get my next breath of air into my lungs. The pain and the coping was elemental. I breathed in and out the name of Jesus, and just kept breathing. Little by little as I got used to the burden, He led me to the next place. Just keep trusting. Just keep surrendering. The only way out is through. There is no escaping if you want to make the goal, there is only getting stronger, and growing in love and virtue.
Suffering is a call to bear up, do something new, and keep moving forward.
Sometimes on the treadmill I have to slow down and walk for a few minutes. (Only in moments of life and death of course.) In carrying our cross, it might seem like we don’t get that option. What do you do when pain and grief feels like life or death but you can’t get out from under? You can’t speed up or slow down and there’s no relief in sight? Recommit yourself to trusting in God. Help is here!
Like Jesus, I have had my own Simons along the way. They can’t completely take the cross away, but they sure can help. By God’s Grace, I find the strength to bear up and know I am ever growing closer to the goal. The Blessed Mother is another treasure to me. She has given me respite more times than I can count with her gentle acceptance and her confident yet humble trust in God. You do not walk your road to calvary alone.
Sometimes, I want to whine and cry like a child, and plead that the burden be lifted. I am only human after all. Sometimes I just get so sick of it, but the deafening silence reminds me to keep my eyes on the goal. I’m running this life race for a real and grand purpose, and trusting and hoping that the pain and suffering will bear fruit sweeter than I can imagine.
“…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…”(Heb 12:1-2)
Don’t miss the next riveting installment of “Reflections from the Treadmill”! Sign up on the sidebar of the blog (the button that says follow) to receive the latest updates. For the next post in the series click here.
FYI: I use the laudate app for all things Catholic including the Rosary podcast. Here’s a link to a review and download button for both droid and iPhone at Catholicapps.com