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Phew! And Good!

It’s been a good running month, this April.  I currently have 92 miles for the month, with tomorrow and Monday (April 30th, my 62nd birthday) to go.  I know that many runner sdo 200, or even 300 miles in a month, but 100-mile months was my New Year’s Resolution (kinda) goal for the year, and I reached that in January (111, actually) and will likely this month.  God willing if the creek don’t rise.

What’s helped a lot was the very nice streaks of cool weather twice in April — it’s gonna be much harder for me to log 100 miles in July and August.

What might help, though, is having from May 5th-July 2nd off from work.  I’m not signed up for the first short summer semester, so I get a lot of time off — teaching English at Santa Fe College is a pretty good gig, sometimes.  So, since I’m off most of May and all of June, I won’t have to worry about truncating my morning runs because I really, really need to get to work.

Just watching the TV news weather on our local channel, and Mr. Weatherguy, Bill Quinlan, predicts 90 degrees for tomorrow and Sunday.  Oh, no — makes me think about how every day in July and August is 96 degrees, about 96% humidity — all ya have to do is walk outside and move your eyes, and you break out in a sweat.

Viva air conditioning!!  Viva!  Encore!


Shirt of Flame

Heather King’s post yesterday on her Shirt of Flame blog was so good that I almost wanted to copy the whole thing here.  That would be wrong, though, so here’s how to find it:

And a taste of what you’ll find when you go there; King writes,


You don’t have to be religious to know that on this earth there is a force of light and a force of darkness. You don’t need to be religious to feel in your blood and bones the paradox of the human condition. You don’t need to be religious to see that addiction is both your biggest cross and, once you get sober, your biggest gift. You don’t need to be religious to marvel at the fact that of all the people in the world who can help a hopeless, broken-down alcoholic, it’s another broken-down alcoholic who’s gotten just enough of a glimpse of light to have stayed sober a single day.

Had breakfast this morning with David, Sam, Joe, and Neil — we’ve been doing this on Wednesday mornings for years, with a shifting cast of characters who are either recovering from addiction or from another  compulsion. We met at an Overcomer’s Outreach group back in 2006, and though the group folded, some of us continue the relationship.  Helping each other recover.

I’ve posted the image that you see on Heather King’s blog. I go there often, and I’ve read her memoir, Parched, and on my to-read list is her latest book, Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Liseux.


Easter Day

Today is Easter Day, and Christians in America will greet each other with the words, “Christ is Risen!”   The standard response to the greeting is, of course, “He is risen indeed!”

I went to a Greek Orthodox church for several years around 1999-2001, and much of the liturgy is in Greek, which I don’t speak or understand (but I could follow in the book in the pew).   Greek Orthodox Christians greet each other on Easter day by saying, “Christos Anesti”! And the response is, “Alethos Anesti!”  Means the same in Greek as the English above.

Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (making at least his second appearance on this blog) wrote, at the end of his poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland,”

Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us,

be a crimson-cresseted east,


And that, friends, is my Easter day wish for you and for me.



Harlan Coben’s “Stay Close,” and Tragedy

I got under the covers at a little after 9:00 tonight and started reading more of Harlan Coben’s latest book, StayClose, and I just had to share some thoughts.

Coben is a fave with me (I’ve read 15-20 of his books), and he sometimes scares me.
I’m on page 158, so about 40% through.  The main character, Cassie (or Megan, or Maygin) has made a terrible mistake, yielded to an urge to tie up some lose ends in her old life — or maybe she’s just curious about people from her past, or maybe she’s stuck in her past.  It looks now as though her actions are going to lead to serious consequences for her new family, a husband and two kids.  It’s looking very, very bad.  I don’t think I want to read any more tonight.

Harlan Coben's "Stay Close"

But I’m reading two other books at the same time, so I’ll look at one or both of them and get back to Stay Close tomorrow evening.
It’s quite a compliment to a writer when he draws me into the story and fills me with such apprehension and dread.  I’m thinking that this is as deep a book, as close to a real tragedy, as anything I’ve read by Harlan Coben.  You see, Cassie is admirable in many ways (she has the stature necessary for a tragic hero), but she has a flaw, a hubris (pride, excess, imbalance, poor judgment) that makes her fall into error.
The great Greek tragic dramatist Sophocles wrote, in a short choral ode at the end of Antigone,
          The deeds of the proud will be met
          By might blows of fate,
          And at long last,
          These blows will teach us wisdom
I love the “at long last.”  Sophocles knew how hardheaded humans are, and he knew how all-too-often wisdom comes too late.  I suppose we should thank our lucky stars (and a benevolent God) when our wisdom doesn’t come too late.  Because wisdom coming too late would be a tragedy.

Yearly Bible Reading

Since December of 1998, when I received The Oxford Annotated Bible as a Christmas gift, I’ve followed the ancient practice of reading the Bible through every year — 3 chapters a day, 4 chapters on Sundays gets a person through the whole Bible in a year.

I don’t think, though, that doing it the way I’ve been doing it is a substitute for directed study, so I go to Bible study groups whenever I can find them, as well as supplement my reading with books about Scripture or articles on the Internet — is a good source for these, also Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s blog, “Windows and Doors.”  Obviously, Rabbi Brad comes from a Jewish perspective, but as my former pastor Fr. John Gillispie once said, “You can’t be more Jewish than being a Christian.”

Ernest Hemingway recommended regular Bible reading, all the way through on a yearly basis — not entirely as a religious practice, I don’t think, but also as training for writers.  Huge chunks of the Scripture are beautifully written — I particularly like 2nd Samuel, which I recently finished and which some scholars argue is the best-written book in the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament).  Chapter 11 tells the story of David’s sin re Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah the Hittite.   David goes up on his roof in Chapter 11, sees Bathsheba bathing on an adjacent roof, and by the end of the paragraph she’s pregnant — and then the wheels seriously come off David’s life.  A masterpiece of narrative compression, leading up to the wonderful story of David and the prophet Nathan (“You are the man!” says Nathan).

I’m now in the First Book of Kings, which definitely is not the best-written book in the Hebrew Bible — sometimes I dip ahead into the New Testament to provide a little leaven to Kings & Chronicles.   I have a new translation of The New Testament by Richmond Lattimore, famous for his translations of Greek drama.