14 April 2012


spring has sprung.

even in missoula, montana (where it usually doesn't until about the middle of may).

and while the coming of the season signals new beginnings all around...the first new buds just barely taking shape on bushes and trees, the dormant brown earth awakening in very subtle shades of green, the novice drivers-in-training let loose to wreak potential havoc on the streets and highways of our fair city (including my younger son)...it meets me at a very unfamiliar place in life.

a place you could variously call 'sudden unemployment'...

or 'instant career transition'...

or 'immediate upheaval of all sense of security and confidence, real and imagined, in my life'...

or 'the spring of new possibiltities arriving WAY earlier than anticipated.'

not unlike this spring that has sprung much sooner than anyone could have predicted.

a crisis unlike any i have encountered, even in my nightmares.

an opportunity with possibilities that remain as hidden to my perception as the reasons why doing a 'knick-knack, paddy-whack' and giving a dog a bone will cause this certain old man to coming rolling home.

and so, like the ebbing and flowing of the tide and the coming and going of the seasons, which happen whether i choose for them to do so or not, change is 'knick-knacking' on my door and rolling right into my home, giving me a gift of fresh opportunities and new beginnings.

right in the middle of my life.

a chance to start...again.

one of the ways that this newness is manifesting itself in my life is the re-emergence of my desire to run the Missoula Half Marathon once again with Trevor, raising awareness and funds for the Nakuru 316 Rescue Homeless Shelter for young women and their children in Nakuru, Kenya. and now that we've both been there and know the N316 community personally, there's an even greater impetus for us to support them in any ways that we can.

of course, this means that i've had to start running again.


after we did the Half in 2010, Trevor caught the running bug and has gone on to run cross country and indoor track in high school. but i caught the bug that causes one to rest on their laurels and enjoy cheering T on at his meets from the comfort of the sidelines, standing in the old running shoes that were 'retired' after the miraculous accomplishment of running 13.1 miles without stopping...ONCE. the after-run Gatorade has been replaced by the 'someday-i'll-get-back-out-and-run' beer at Kettlehouse on Friday afternoons. and it shows...in my gut, and my general disposition, which can be described most concretely as 'WAY out of shape.'

so, a couple of weeks ago, on Palm Sunday, i threw on my sweats, laced up my old shoes, and waddled my way through my old 3 mile loop. i arrived home still able to walk and talk, and only needed three ibuprofen afterwards. a 'moral victory' for me.

two days later, T and i went on what is usually a 3.5 mile loop around the university, down along the river, and back home. but construction along the river trail forced us onto a detour that added an additional half mile to our trek, making it an even 4 miles. and once again, i made it through without any major aches and pains, and even occasionally joining in the conversation that T was having (mostly with himself, since i was incoherently wheezing most of the way).

two more days later, i decided to try my luck at a 5 mile loop. and my luck partially ran out. i did make it through, but had to stop to walk a couple of times because the middle toe on my right foot was going numb, along with the long 'band' that runs from my glutius maximus down the back of my leg to said foot. needles to say, it was a four-ibuprofen day.

i waited four more days until i ventured out again, this time on the 4 mile loop on a bright, hot, sunny day. i mostly felt fine, even when the packs of women and old men sprinted past me on the river trail.

two days later (today), i went out once again on the 4 miler, this time under cloudy skies threatening rain. and i actually felt like there were moments along the journey where i wasn't waddling so much, and actually starting to approach some semblence of 'running' form. when i arrived home, i was tired AND rejuvenated, having done the loop a bit faster than i had in previous attempts. no ibuprofen required (at least not yet).

the detour on the route now takes me over the river on two additional walking bridges. and by the time i'm making my way back across the second bridge, i'm usually starting to hit a little wall, psychologically if not physically. and today was no different in that regard.

but i noticed something on the bridge today. i don't know if it had been there before or not. but since i run so often with my head down, i definitely couldn't miss it. so it must have appeared in the last couple of days. a new addition.

someone had spray painted something on the concrete walkway.

right in the middle.


a squiggly line of spray paint then proceeded from the word, towards the path on the other side of the river.

and it hit me right then and there.

i was about 2.5 miles through my run.

i was tired, emotionally and physically.

i was tempted to stop and walk for a few moments.

and then i see this simple word...


not at the beginning of my run.

right in the middle of it.

a chance to 'Start'...again.

i felt a little burst of energy surge through my body...very subtly.

i felt my pulse quicken ever so slightly...just barely.

and my feet bounced up a little higher, almost like dancing.

and my head rose up, my face pointing forward instead of downward.

and i could feel my breath lifting my lungs, then rushing out over the river...again...and again.

the breathing of my body...the sighing of the Spirit.

the languid lumbering of my legs...the perplexing paradox of my pathway of life.

the undulating uncertainties...the preposterous possibilities.

a crisis unlike any i have encountered.

an opportunity unlike any i have been offered.

a chance to start...again


  1. Will you be able to tell those of us who don't know what precipitated all these changes?

    1. 'Cliff Notes version'...a series of events at my former church swirled into a 'perfect storm' which led to a change in pastoral leadership model overall (dissolving of the co-pastorate), and my position being dissolved in particular.

  2. AYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYMEN, brother!!!! I love it. I love the blog. I love this entry. And most of all I love that you're running again! We're training for the full this year and WHOA...looking down the barrel of a 17.5 "training" run tomorrow is daunting, but putting one step in front of another I know it will get done. I am so proud of you for being so honest through this sudden transition of yours. You and your family are always in my thoughts. :) Can't wait to read more and compare our journeys!

  3. I so enjoy your gift of painting with words. Blossom on! Marsha

  4. Brian - If you are led to middle Tennessee then know that you have a place to come with no caveats. Laura and I are about 35 miles south of Nashville in Christiana TN and have the room for you and your family. You may have to man the BBQ now and then but it wouldn't be in the snow! We have an entire upstairs with two bedrooms, a large bonus room, and a bathroom at your disposal. Your company would be all the payment needed.