Thursday, November 17, 2005

Recess in Heaven

The sky was a remarkable blue yesterday. The wind was blowing from the north and it had a November bite that made one unsure if they might need long sleeves.

My work day was slow and I was looking forward to my workout at the stadium at noon.

My track coach had prescribed a stadium step workout. Running up the steps repetitively, looking for fall strength that would lead to spring and summer speed on the track.

When I arrived I was alone. Standing in the stands I could see the neighboring Catholic Church in the near distance. On certain hours it offers up a bell tower chorus that always feels like a personal visit from God.

A training partner had emailed that he could not make the workout because of a series of meetings at work.

I began the labor of running the steps, reminding myself that it was necessary work. The strength gained would translate to speed in the racing season.

From seemingly nowhere my training partner appeared. He was like a friendly smiling ghost, moving toward me with nonchalance. He had ditched his meetings. The sun seemed brighter.

He ran the next series with me, my final ascent for the day. Then he began his own assault on the steps without me. I returned to the track below. I was missing something important on this November day. I had not sprinted since my last track meet in September. All of the workouts since then had been designed for strength conditioning to prepare for the competitions of next year.

I sprinted down the track for about 50 meters with the old familiar effort, speed returning the best it could in my weary legs. I wanted more.

My friend called from the stands. “Are you going to do more of those?”

He joined me on the artificial turf of the football field below.

I took off my shoes to run in my socks.

He tossed his gloves to the field.

We sprinted.

Down the field.

Fulfilling the need.

Taming the beast that prowled inside.

We did it again and again.

Over and over.

Side by side.

Doing exactly what we would do if it were recess in heaven.

My friend had to go back to work.

We thanked one another and said goodbye.

After he left I put on my shoes and walked to the center of the field. I stared into the blue sky above. The north breeze was a perfect temperature, the sun shone steadily and happily.

The church bells began to ring.

I smiled inside.

Heaven does visit earth.

We just have to open our arms.

Wish for a friend.

Then do what you would do if it were recess in heaven.

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