Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blindly Running

As part of our Lenten sacrifice, Ariel and I have been getting up early to do physical and spiritual exercises each morning.  Our routine has actually turned us into 95 year old grandmothers--bed at 9:30pm and waking up at 5:00am.  Our days are so jammed packed with the clinic, school, and after school activities that we don't have any time to fit in exercise during "normal" waking hours.  So we have created a schedule that allows us to do various exercises-running, yoga, strengthening-and morning prayer during our only free time before mass begins at 6:45am.  Although I dread the sound of my alarm most (more like every) mornings, I couldn't think of a better way to begin the day.  It is a peaceful time, a quiet time, the only time in the day when I don't have a hundred kids screaming at me all at the same time.  It gives me a chance to really take in the peace and quiet, clear my mind, and get ready for the day.

40 minutes into my run--the first sign of daylight 
Easily my favorite activity that we have been doing is running.  I like running and have enjoyed getting back into it, but running in Maridi, South Sudan is such an interesting experience for a few different reasons.  #1-People just don't do it.  They work all day, every day in the field and don't need extra activities to get their exercise.  So when they see me do it, they find it strange.  #2-I already stick out enough as a foreigner, but a white person running really makes them laugh.  Even though it is pitch black when we run, somehow they still know I am white.  I hear people on the road conversing in Zande, but I pick out the words "white" and "Ah, MAMA!" which is an expression that so many people here use when they are surprised.  And #3- Potholes, goats, and mangoes.  Let me explain this last point that makes running a completely different experience.  There are so many obstacles, and when you are running in complete darkness, it makes for an interesting run.  If I run on the main "road," I risk falling into human-sized pot holes.  And If I run around the compound, I risk tripping over goats and getting hit by falling mangoes.  And yes, all of these things have happened to me.  Even though I carry a torch with me while I run and stare at the ground to try to perfectly place each step, I still fall into these huge potholes and eat dirt at least two times each morning I run.  And yes, I actually did trip over a black goat one morning that I obviously didn't see, and it didn't move out of the way in time.  And one windy morning I was running under a mango tree, and a mango fell and hit me straight on the head.  So needless to say, my morning runs are definitely filled with excitement, sometimes too much excitement.   
Our small victory of the day- finding the Ice Cream Man!

But this morning as I was running, I started thinking.  This is exactly what this journey is about.  I am running in the darkness, I am blind in a sense.  I am trying my best to see the big picture of this adventure and really figure out my purpose here, but only God knows.  He alone is in charge.  He obviously called me here and had a reason for that, and now it is my job to just blindly follow Him and trust in his plan.  On days where I struggle and think to myself "what the heck am I even doing here?", on days when I can't stand to look at or smell another wound, on days where my classes are extra loud and rambunctious, I just try to remember that kind of blind obedience.  God is leading me, and the only thing I can do is run to follow Him.  I might not know where He is leading me or with what purpose, but no matter what crazy or tough things happen, there are always so many small, funny, sweet moments in each day that keep me running and following His path. 

Sunrise as I finished my run this morning
Each morning as I stumble down the road trying to avoid the obstacles, I am so boldly reminded of God's constant presence throughout this mission.  When I get the courage to take my eyes off the road in front of me, I look up and see the most magnificent sunrises.  It is such an amazing experience to see the dawn break.  To see that first glimpse of daylight.  I know that the obstacles of yesterday-the potholes, the goats, the mangoes- are behind me, and it is a new day, a new chance to blindly run by faith.


  1. " is a new day, a new chance to blindly run by faith" -- this is a beautiful and profound revelation you've had, Theresa, and a gift you've shared with your readers. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story and your spiritual insights. God bless you!

  3. Perfect analogy for all of us who are pilgrims journeying home toward our Father! Thanks, Theresa. God bless you and Ariel and all your community.

  4. Hi Theresa, what a beautiful reflection. Your analogy of running in the dark and blindly submitting to God's will for us struck me as so very true. There are obstacles along the way, but also many unexpected surprises and joys. The beauty of the workings of nature always remind me of God's presence in my life. Take care and God bless. Jean Fields