Monday, November 17, 2008

O Come O Come Immanuel!

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

Rise and shine---it's dang near winter weather time! Yesterday night those of us residing in Chicago had one of our first glimpses of snowfall this year...more to come, I'm sure!

Hope all is well with all of you. Hope this post finds you looking forward to spending time with friends and family over the coming Turkey holiday. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your loved ones, wherever you may be.


Yesterday morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 7:30 am to go for a run. Why? Well, a friend of mine had invited me to run a race sponsored by a local restaurant called the "Heartland Cafe." The place sells scrumptious food and also sort of doubles as an activist, trendy place. The run was for an organization called Athletes United for Peace, or something along those lines. It made sense to me: run for peace. I like to run and I like peace. But do I like to run 8 am on a 32 degree morning? Well...I'm flexible I guess.

Anyways, two friends and I waddled our way out to the cafe, bracing the lakefront winds, to register for the race. When we got there, the crowd seemed to be a decent size; 30 to 40 people waiting to run. After I filled my form out, I went to a large jug of what I think is water and filled a cup. Steaming hot Joe poured out of the jug...that's ok, I thought to myself. A nice little perk before running 5 km.

I figured the only two people I would know running the race would be my friends Laura and Monica. However, I was mistaken. Running the race were two little friends of mine from last year, from a local grade school called Northside Catholic Academy. I had tutored at their school and was really surprised and excited to see them. It was amazing to see that 11 year old Sergio was going to be running a 5 km race. When I was 11, a chubby, video game & TV watching chap, I would have shrieked at the idea of running for that long. But this little guy was for real...way to go Sergio!

There was someone else I saw yesterday. Last year, he was a person I would run into (quite literally) on the Loyola track. His name is Immanuel. Though I had forgotten his name (I am terrible at remembering names and had to ask him to remind me yesterday what his was), I vividly remembered his soothing Spirit, his welcoming Smokey Robinson-esque face and smile, and his overall love of running and life.
I remember Immanuel came up to me one day while I was doing a track workout and told me I was a pretty good runner. It was totally unexpected but so very appreciated. This compliment came from a middle aged dude in tip top shape who runs a pace that would make most of us runners look like Santa Claus trying to run a marathon after eating one too many of Mrs. Claus's cookies. That is to say, Immanuel is quite a runner. So, to have him give me a compliment really boosted my Spirit. And seeing him periodically on the track, maybe once a week or once every couple weeks, reminded me that there are other people who share in the joy of running. Even more importantly, he reminded me that there are people in this world who seek to spread joy in whatever way they can, to whomever is present to receive that joy. I was the fortunate recipient Immanuel's encouragement and captivating personality... When I saw Immanuel yesterday, in some small way, my Spirit leaped for joy, to see a kind person who had brightened up several of my days.

When I told Immanuel I ran the Chicago Marathon, his face beamed and he gave me a truly heartfelt congratulations. He said the last marathon he ran was the Boston Marathon---that's quite impressive indeed. Boston requires racers to qualify with a certain time during a previous race. I told him that I would really like to run the Boston Marathon someday, but I would have to cut my time by some 30 minutes for my particular age group. Without hesitation, Immanuel told me I could do it. With some more training, he was confident I could one day be there.

It is that kind of optimism that we need more of in this world. With more people like Immanuel to be examples of how light can be spread, we might just light our world up with something more than artificial brightness this holiday season.

O Come, O Come Immanuel!

peace and blessings~

with love,

your friend bob : )

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