Running Like a Child (in Shiny Red Shoes)

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

I love Sundays. They are so much more relaxed than any other day! With Lauds at 9:30, I have time to sleep in a little and still do my personal prayer and reading before I go to chapel.

As I continue to read Michael Casey’s Book The Road to Eternal Life, many things jump out at me. This section, however, is particularly meaningful:

“There is another aspect to running. Apart from professional runners, health runners, and those who are always late, it is mostly children who run. They run out of sheer exuberance, because walking seems too staid to serve as a vehicle for their vitality. There is in running an overflowing happiness that cannot be contained in a slower pace. This is the image Saint Benedict proposes when he recommends that his disciples run: childlike simplicity, as in the gospels; happiness; vitality. There is, in such a spirit, a degree of intensity that some of us are fearful to embrace.”

Two images popped into my mind:

1. A student in my classroom this past year, Tim, never seemed to be able to walk. He jumped, skipped, ran and hopped, which – of course! – caused problems with staying in line. But for Tim life was also exciting! Each event that happened during the day seemed to be better than the last. I pray that he hangs on to his enthusiasm as he gets older.

2. A Friends episode when Phoebe and Rachel go to the park together to run. When Phoebe runs like a child with her arms flapping, Rachel is embarrassed. In fact, Rachel tries not to run with Phoebe again. Phoebe finds out and tells Rachel why she runs that way. Rachel then tries it herself and finds it freeing.

We seem to let go or forget that childlike spirit in ourselves as we grow older. We fear that we will be embarrassed, or made fun of, or not liked. We lose that happiness and vitality.

Phoebe and Tim have a lot to teach us. We need to run with childlike enthusiasm, no matter what anyone else thinks. And where should we run? Toward happiness, toward love, toward God.

St. Benedict says, “As we progress in this way of life and faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”

My final profession reminded me of the importance of that. I am glad I brought a little of my inner child with me to the ceremony by wearing shiny red shoes. It was a reminder that I always need to run towards God with that childlike enthusiasm.

Let me remind you: Run like a child into God’s arms.

Want to talk? Email me at smacdonald@smmsisters.org. 🙂

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