Monday, May 25, 2015

This Is My Church

It's a funny thing: I didn't really plan to make a big online deal about my dad's passing last Saturday. I mentioned it in the Regular Guy Reads of the Week, to explain why Friday's haul was thin. I also mentioned it in one post each on the FftRG Facebook and Twitter feeds (and a little more on my personal FB feed). The outpouring of support I've gotten from Regular Guys and Gals has been absolutely amazing. I want to thank everyone, truly.

Dad wasn't much for a public fuss -- he didn't even like birthday parties -- and he didn't want a wake or funeral. Even if I'd had any say-so in the arrangements (I didn't), of course I would have respected his wishes. But I've always believed that the physical act of grieving -- dealing with a funeral director, choosing flowers, sitting with family, talking to people you haven't seen since the last death in the family -- is cathartic. And our family didn't have that.

So when I did post on Facebook and Twitter last week, I uploaded a photo I'd taken that morning, during my first run after a prolonged respiratory infection and then my dad's passing. And I captioned it, "This is my church."

This is my church.
Working out, particularly running, is probably the most spiritual part of my life. It's the time when I turn inward, when my mind is most in touch with my body. I'm focused on every breath, every step, every swing of my arms. But amazingly, it's simultaneously the time when I'm most able to work through the thoughts and issues and problems in my life. And even more amazing, it's the time when I'm most aware of my environment -- when I'm tuned into all of the man-made and natural things around me. I suppose I could say that running is my form of meditation.

So when I went for that first run last week, finally, it occurred to me: Seeing as I'm not going to have the chance to grieve my dad in a religious sanctuary, funeral home, cemetery or anywhere else, this is where I'm going to do it. It was while I was running that I really started to work on my feelings for my dad. When I was alone in my sanctuary, I could begin to process the good, the bad, the regrets, the memories, the anger, the sadness -- the whole damn thing.

My dad and I had a complicated relationship. His passing has forced me to examine that, reflect on it and try to put it into some kind of context. I don't expect to find any easy answers, and I don't anticipate that I'll really put it into the rear-view mirror for a long time. But I do know where I'll be looking for those answers.

Because this is my church.

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