Mental Health Awareness Week, day 3.
Today is a breathing space for me, and this morning I went for a run. Running has been good for my mental health in many ways, including spiritually, physically, and socially.
Yesterday I noted that we can speak of each human being as having three Selves. This, I believe, is part of what it is to be made in the likeness of a triune God: the Father, I AM, eternally dwelling in the present and inviting us to be with him there; Jesus, the Son, who has an embodied history, from birth through childhood and adolescence to adulthood, suffering, death, and beyond; and the Holy Spirit, whose harmonising activity in the world is socially dispersed.
When I run, there are times when I find myself—Self 1—caught up in the present moment. Whatever concerns I took with me, whatever problems I turned over in my mind, attempting to multi-task, fall away. Not every time. And in this present moment, I know that I am, and that, whatever state I am in right now, I am beheld by the loving gaze of Yahweh, I AM.
When I run, I find myself—Self 2—aware of my body. I am not as young as I once was, nor as old as I hope to become. Today, my back is moving more freely than it has for several days, but not yet as freely as I have known it and hope to know it again. Having been unable to run for a week, to get out today and move, to feel the warmth of the sun on my back and the sting of sweat in my eyes, has been good for me. A blessing, to give thanks for--and to share in greeting others out for a walk in the sunshine.
When I run, I find myself—Self 3—a part of a community of runners. At present, we are unable to run together, as we would like. But I have been so very blessed by the ways in which fellow Strollers have taken to connecting via Facebook and Messenger. When I run, even if I do not cross paths with another member of the club, I do not run alone. We run, for one another as well as for ourselves, holding on to the times we have run together and to the hope that we shall do so again. And on some days, any given one of us is not up to holding on to such hope, and so we are held by one another. Mental health—indeed all health—is social, because it is personal, and persons only exist in relation to one another.
Of course, running is not a magic talisman. There have been times when I have had to put it down, because my head has been broken. It has been there, my friends waiting for me, when I have been able to pick it up again. Nonetheless, I am thankful for the Sunderland Strollers, the best running club in the world (possibly best equal, but I could not say). They have been and are one of the ways in which God is saving my life, right now.