Photo Courtesy: Unsplash.com
There is something so beautiful and sacred in the power of our silent words -- Those words that are not spoken aloud yet heard deeply within our soul; their weight carrying more meaning because they do not need to be spoken.
I've been surrounded by these silent words for some time. I've come to realize that many of my deepest friendships have been built on a framework of silent words. It's in the look of an eye that smiles with admiration and love; it's in the single heartbeat that skips simply because you've entered the room; it's in the knowing expression when someone else has said something hurtful, or exposed a secret not ready for the world to know; it's in the squeezing of a hand that says, I am here, you are not alone.
In my deepest relationship, the one with my husband, I imagine we could successfully carry on an intelligent and meaningful conversation while sitting across from each other at dinner without ever speaking a single word.
These silent words are moments of comfort and peace between two people and are offered up in a single slice of energy that passes between you -- no one else capable of intercepting the message because only the two of you can decode its meaning.
Silent words are beautiful, pure, poignant, and penetrating.
When I think of my dearest relationships, they are filled with hilarious and tender conversations, but it is the silent words between us that creates an unshakeable bond hard to describe.
I've encountered them so much lately -- perhaps because I'm in the midst of one of "life's transitions." These are times when you really don't know what to say. The words do not have the capacity to fill the depth of which you feel -- the emotions too raw, too big, too powerful to match any attempt to describe the feeling out loud. Looking at the beautiful souls around me, I hear their silent words and am immediately comforted. Their smiles, laughter, tears, hugs, hand gestures, knowing looks, and bowed heads say all that is needed. The message of the heart is carried out through actions, not words.
As beautiful and glorious I believe words to be (I am a storyteller after all), they are nothing without love and intention.
While stringing together a syncopated sentence full of delicious syntax is something that tantalizes me, it's the silent words from my loved ones that move me to tears.
I hear you.
I understand your 'no words'.
You say everything by saying nothing.
Your beautiful and special heart speaks to me through your kind gestures, your availability, your honesty, your hospitality, your openness and your humanity.
I am humbled by your love and comforted by your symphony of silence.
Photo Credit: UnSplash
I delivered my regular Meals on Wheels of Greenville
route today. One of the regular stops is a couple, a man & wife, although it's the man who always answers the door. The wife is non-mobile; I gather she is bedridden. He relies on a walker to get around. It always takes him a long time to answer the door when I ring. You just get the sense that everything takes time, happens slowly, and there are never, ever any lights on in the house when I step inside to put the meals down on his kitchen counter.
Today, he surprised me.
As I got out of my car and walked toward the door - he spoke to me from the other side of a boat that is always parked in his carport. He was smiling a big, bright smile and said, "You can just put those inside."
I was startled to see him outside! I opened the door and placed the meals on his counter and noticed his walker was in the kitchen.
When I came back outside, I playfully asked him, "Hey, how did you get all the way over there without your walker?"
"Oh I've got it with me. It's right here. I have two of them!" he replied, smiling and continuing to tinker with something in his boat.
The vibrant energy that came off this old man's aura was palpable. It was a beautiful day here, the sun was shining, the sky was clear, and you could just tell that getting outside -- even for just a few minutes to tinker with his boat-- probably reminded him of days gone by when he would take that boat out on the lake, fish for the big one, and come home with a filled up soul only a day on the water can provide.
I smiled at him and asked if there was anything I could do for him while I was there. "No," he replied. "I'm doing great."
Yes he was. Today was a great day for him. No one needed an announcement to be able to tell that much; It glowed from his body. "THIS IS A GREAT DAY. I GOT OUTSIDE AND I AM GETTING TO TINKER WITH MY BOAT"
When I began the route earlier, I started out by asking God to use me to help shine light for someone else today.... but it was this man tinkering with his boat that shined for me.
I'm coming off an amazing weekend where I attended our church Women's Retreat up in the mountains of North Carolina. It just so happens that I was the retreat organizer and helped plan the weekend. And it just so happens that those plans included MUCH of the vision I hold for the "Ignite Your LIGHT Retreats" that have been dancing around in my head for about 2 years now. I was gifted with a playground in which I could test out my ideas. The women loved it. I've been flooded with emails and texts today about how awesome this retreat was. Don't get me wrong -- it was not ALL because of my plans -- we had an exceptional retreat speaker and some other really amazing contributors that made the weekend really special. But the vision was there -- and it was phenomenal to see it play out and be so enthusiastically received. It solidified my theory: WOMEN WANT THIS. WE NEED IT.
This is how life and VISIONING works.
I planned this retreat simply because I said "yes" to a committee 3 years ago. The position was a 3-year commitment with different responsibilities each year. The 3rd year was planning this retreat.
3 years ago, there was no LIGHTbeamers.
3 years ago, I had no idea how to plan a retreat.
3 years ago, I had no vision for any of this.
But God knows our path long before we do :)
Enter the first ever "Ignite Your LIGHT" Retreat. [HAPPY DANCE]
What Vision do you hold for yourself? What story are you telling yourself that is holding you back from going after your dreams? What do you really want your story to be? Spend a weekend tapping into your personal power and reigniting the LIGHT that is inside of you.
Jennifer Rackley Chacon, a certified health & life coach, will join me to facilitate this retreat.
We are offering crazy good "beta" pricing.
$250 (shared room) - $350 (private room) for the entire weekend.
All inclusive (meals, accommodations, supplies, workshops)
The retreat will be Friday March 31 - Sunday April 2 at a lake house on Lake Norman (just outside Charlotte, NC)
I don't even have the registration links fully operational yet ... but I cannot wait another day to share this. I am too excited and READY to share it with you.
MY PROMISE TO YOU: We will pour into you the most amazing energy and content we can dream up. You will leave refreshed and reenergized. Your story will unfold. Your light will shine.
If you want more details: email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can Register by simply clicking here
, we will be in contact to secure payment for the retreat.
Darkness & LIGHT Courtesy: allthefreestock.com
I like the Dichotomy of things. I like to wear a little color with my black & white. I am both a thrill seeker and a careful ninny. I am a go-getter who loves to be lazy. I have fears that rage inside of me that only my Faith can suppress. Fundamentally, I believe we are all complex creatures who sometimes don’t make a whole lot of sense to the naked eye. At least, not at first glance. It’s why I seek the LIGHT, yet find so much goodness in the dark.
This explains why my husband — who knows the bright, bubbly, positive, light-chasing side of me — has grown very accustomed to my Bat-like tendencies. He'll often find me curled up in a dark nook, sitting quietly by myself, having drawn the curtains in the room to create a cavernous space in which to retreat. Yes — me, the chaser of the LIGHT, likes to sit and simmer in the dark.
What’s happening in these moments is an opportunity to shut out the world, silence the noise, and go inward with my thoughts. It is here, in the dark, I often meet the LIGHT I am so hell-bent on finding. Our days are filled 24-7 with stimuli — news, internet, conversations, to-do lists, errands, commitments, rushing … rushing… rushing… I often only have time to scribble down little notes — glimmers of LIGHT stories I dream up or encounter but don't have the time to develop, ponder, digest. These notes are memory joggers for me to flesh out later when I have time to actually sit down and write. But oddly enough, sometimes when that time arrives, I no longer see the importance or relevance of these little notes. Their tangled words no longer make sense to me, and I'm left trying to recall the details I clearly felt important enough to write down in the first place. This unravels me! Why didn’t I just stop and write it out in the moment? I ask myself. This would have been a great story to share but now the words escape me.
I think this is how life is — don’t you? Our days are filled with little moments that really could be epic stories if we would just stop long enough to soak them up, drink in the moment and savor its lingering message and impact. But we are too busy to stop and enjoy them so we let them pass us by; just a blip on the radar. When you later recall it, it has very little meaning or importance anymore. It’s just nothing.
When a string of these moments pile up and all I have is a series of little notes that I can no longer make sense of — it's a red flag warning that I have gone too far, too long, too deep into the madness of life. I have to push the pause button and shut those curtains to block out all the light that is life rushing by. I embrace the cold, quiet dark; I become very quiet and still. And I listen. I have complete conversations in my head with my ego, my self-doubt, my courage, my spirited-self, and most importantly, God. Then, something always emerges. A LIGHT that was not there before. Clarity. Purpose. Faith. Resolve. Intention. Sometimes full-blown stories emerge and I'm gifted with material to write; Other times, full-blown revelations about my life and my personal journey that help me adjust my course.
The yin-yang of my writing life really intrigues me. I’ve come to realize I’m a very emotional writer — the stories only spill out when I’m fully enthralled in my highs and lows.
When life is on cruise control and balanced, the words don’t easily come. But send me over the edge — either into the sky high emotions of happiness, love, and elation or down into the deep valleys of fear, worry, and doubt — and the stories emerge. Why must I go to the extremes to find them? I wonder. When I contemplate this I hear God say to me:
"Because that’s where life is lived, my dear. That’s where I need you to go to find me. That’s where you need to go to find others, too, so you can do this thing I’ve called you to do: Write and Share and Shine. Real friendships and true Community are not found on the road to Balance and Harmony. They are found in the thickness of the Dark and in the brightness of the Light. Go there. Be there. And then come back to tell the tales so others will find comfort in knowing they, too, are in the exact right place. They will know there is a lesson/story/reason in here, and that it’s all unfolding exactly as I would have it."
These are lessons from the Universe, God's great masterpiece. The things that send us high and low are really just life lessons we need to learn -- things to be absorbed, processed, evaluated and shared. It's what I call "Riding the SERF" (Stop, Evaluate, Focus and Rededicate) ; these are the real things that bind us because we are all riding the highs and lows of life!
I've also learned that my highs are really high, and my lows are very low. It doesn't mean I am drunk on positivity anymore than it means I am unhappy or depressed. It simply means I feel deeply. I imagine many of you can relate to this. For this reason, I have come to embrace the Dark even more because there is so much to be learned there.... such valuable teachings if we are brave enough to really sit in it for a spell.
Keep riding your SERF.
EDITORIAL NOTE: I found most of this piece on my computer, in a place I scribble down notes quickly when an idea strikes. When I found it later, I didn't even remember writing it! It's like I had Writer's Amnesia. But when I sat with the notes, and fleshed out this piece, I realized again how much beauty and truth can be found in our dark corners. I am grateful for this lesson.
The world seems to be filled with so much devastation, depravity, evil and hate. There are days when our news feeds are filled with such tragic events, it’s hard to hold our heads up and face another day. Furthermore, our culture seems to have taken a cue — people in our Networks easily and carelessly make snap judgements, rude accusations, and hate-filled commentary against us without much cause, or pause, for consideration of our viewpoints, or our perspective. Social Media channels have created this beast, but there’s no question it exist even within private conversations and live interchanges between people. I’ve thought much about this — not so much evaluating how others participate in this phenomenon, but rather where my own actions fall. It’s caused me to ask this simple question:
If I am the sum of all my Facebook Likes, Posts, Shares, and Comments, would they equal the character I wish to be? And furthermore, would others want to be measured this same way?
Our society is at a crossroads — we shall either continue to participate in the Judgement, or look deeper and see people for who they really are, beyond their latest public profile image. We are all complicated, interesting, humanly-flawed individuals. We are creatures filled with ideas and emotions, a history of mistakes, and a future filled with possibilities. Isn’t it high time we go back to seeing one another as we care to be seen ourselves? Remember the Golden Rule of Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You.
Let’s stop highlighting everyone’s wrongs and start celebrating their rights.
We are not perfect! We are going to say things that come out all wrong. We are going to have opinions that sometimes don’t make sense to others. We are going to make decisions based on where we are in our own lives, not where others wish us to be. We’ve become so engrossed and invested in other people’s beliefs and habits that we have somehow lost sight of our own; we’re too busy worrying about other people’s moral compass to figure out if our own is out of whack. The time has come ― we must put the brakes on being hyper critical.
When I dreamed of LIGHTbeamers, I envisioned it as a vehicle for us all to shine for one another, support one another, inspire and motivate, lift each other up! However, my own shortcomings often leave me feeling unworthy of leading such a charge for I also make mistakes, say things I don’t mean, have polarizing opinions, and fail miserably at times in shining the LIGHT. Sometimes when this has happened, people have quickly pointed out my flaws. But mostly they have soldiered on for me — shining for me when my own darkness is too deep, lifting me up instead of stomping me down. For the latter, I am immensely grateful.
Can we all agree to shine a kind LIGHT for others? Give them a little Grace when they need it?
Social Media has created this platform for us to announce and denounce 24-hours a day. While posting selfies is fun, and sharing pics from my awesome vacation is great ― this is status update I really want to say, and what I imagine we all want to say to the world—
“Thank you for seeing me for who I really am. I am grateful for your open eyes, your widespread arms, and your loving heart. You don’t question my heart and you don’t waiver in your friendship, despite all the many ways in which you and I differ. You see me for more than just my profile picture, my status update, my likes and comments, and my political views. You see me for the beautiful, God-created soul I am. You see the smiles I give, the laughs we share, the goals I achieve. You see through all my fears, even when I do my best to mask them in a defiant state of self-confidence. You relate to me on a human level — as a mom, friend, wife, concerned citizen, sister, daughter, just someone who’s trying to find her footing in this big-bad-wolf of a world. You see me sharing my kindness in the world, and give me credit for doing more than is necessary.”
Our means of communication needs to be filled with love, compassion, faith and understanding... and especially, grace. There is no room for hatred, bigotry, and insults. When we share our kind words and supportive hands, we shine our LIGHT. When we do this, we remind each other of the best versions of ourselves.
We are all fumbling our way through life together. After all, we all want the same things — love, hope, peace, safety, compassion, a brighter future. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how we get there… as long as we stay true to our own unique course, and accept others along their way.
THINGS I KNOW FOR SURE: When life hands you lemons, you learn to make Gratitude Lemonade. Today, I'm pouring up a huge serving of it as I share my thoughts while recovering from back surgery. Yes, back surgery! Talk about being forced to slow down and just get real still with your thoughts -- being laid up literally flat on your back opens up all sorts of opportunities to either go the "poor me" route.... or "suck it up, buttercup, this ain't but a thang" journey. As you probably guessed, I'm taking the later option. I'm home now recovering (all went very well with my surgery) and I'm sitting here with my thoughts. Here's all I can think about -- GRATITUDE.
I am overwhelmed by it, honestly. It's Gratitude on steroids for me today.
Sitting in the pre-op for nearly 3 hours waiting for my surgery to be called, I listened to the many people coming in for their own procedures. My surgery was minor compared to the stories I heard on the other side of the curtains. People struggling with serious and complicated health issues. Battling lifelong illnesses. Making repeat trips to hospital and OR. It made my own problems so very small, and my sense of gratitude immense.
Then there's today -- I'm home recovering like a champ. I have hope for the future. I know I will recover fully. I have a full life to return to. I have family and friends around me supporting me. Some folks I heard in the pre-op room had no one with them. No one holding their hand, whispering prayers and encouragement by their side.
Then, I think about this amazing Community. I couldn't wait to be able to chat with you today to share these thoughts. I want us all to remember to not take life for granted. We have to take care of our health. Take care of our bodies. To live life fully. To live boldly. To live out loud. Eat healthy foods. Drink water. Exercise. Be mindful. Meditate. De-stress. Take stock of all that is good in your life and be very thankful for it all. Every single morsel.
I have come to learn that Gratitude just sets EVERYTHING in your life right-side up again. No matter what you are struggling with, there is much to be thankful for when you purposely shift your thoughts to these blessings and moments of positivity.
Gratitude is your one-stop-shopping for LIGHT. When you turn your mind & heart to gratitude, the light shines automatically. You don't have to hunt -- it's just there!!
What are you grateful for today? Go deep. Really take a few minutes to take stock of it all, then say "Thank You" for all that is good, right, loving, and meaningful in your life today.
I have a renewed sense of this practice. We all get off course from time to time -- life can be so distracting. Shiny objects of fear get in our way. Let's take time today and get back on course so we can all shine brighter, live louder, and be in a space that truly allows us to be our best selves. Remember, when we shine, we shine for others too!
Man am I cheering for you guys so loudly over here. From my bed. With good drugs by my side :) I'm a little sappy today -- so just indulge me! Head on over to the LIGHTbeamers Community on Facebook and join in on the Conversation. Tell us what you are Grateful for today.
I wrote something yesterday that I think is the intro/beginning/something to a book. It was very raw, emotional, personal, and just a little (a lot) scary. It made my husband cry. What I wrote has to do with FEAR.
I think a lot of us deal with fear everyday. Fear is so rampant. Fear of failure, fear of money, fear of love, fear of success, fear of not being good enough, fear of being our true selves, fear of what others think, Fear.... Fear... Fear.
I have been crippled by this. I know how devastating and debilitating this can be.
But I also know how beautiful life can be once you name your fears (I personally call my fear The Devil because it helps me remember how evil fear is, and how badly I do not want it in my life).
I prayed and prayed and prayed for God to come take my fears away for a long time. He sent me a special message when he started sending me a word: LIGHT.
I wrote about this "sending of the Light" on LIGHTbeamers when I first started my blog (Read original post here if you want to read how that word CHASED me, and God beat me over the head with it). But even then, I didn't have the words to fully describe it and appreciate it. I feel those words coming now. Another gift from God.
I'm a few years in now on my personal journey to overcome these irrational, totally energy blocking fears and live my life more purposeful, intentional, and BIGGER.
Do I have it all figured out? Um, hell no!
But I do know that anytime spent in the darkness is scary.
Yet living into the bright light can be even scarier because it means being vulnerable and truthful. That's why so many of us choose to stay stuck in the ruts!! It's easier and safer there sometimes.
But that is no way to live, friends. If you stay there, what will your life look like 10 years from now? Where will you be? I'm in my mid-40's and I want these years to count for something! I want to do fun things, go to cool places, meet interesting people, experience amazing things!! I no longer choose to hide in my closet, crying because of my fears.
There are times you just have to say F#^* this-- I am going to do life my way!!!!!
And so, I am going to write a book and share with the world my darkest and brightest days. I'm going to write about Fear, and how the LIGHT can save you from it.
And I am committed to building a Community of LIGHTbeamers who want to shine alongside with me!! The dark world needs us to link arms and do this work together!
Photo via Visualhunt
When life feels small, it’s because you are drifting on a small raft. Time to build a bigger boat!
I am not a great runner. In fact, I really don’t enjoy it. I wish I did, I try to, but at the end of the day I never find myself craving a run!! I do it more out of necessity than anything else. Oh sure I always feel better afterwards and I am always glad I did it — but I still never really identify myself as a Runner. The story I’m telling myself is the one that reads "I am not a runner
” — Yet I continue to sign up for races and events that challenge me to not accept that storyline.
This point became so clear to me today — appropriately enough — while I was running. I had to constantly remind myself and rewind my self-talk into saying “I am a runner. I am strong. I will run this last bit without walking. I can do it. I will do it”
…. This took a lot of mental work. But anytime we decide to play bigger in life — build a bigger boat, build a better you! — takes a lot of mental work. It takes mantras, vision, commitment, determination. To build a better you, you must first set the goal in place. Decide what it is you really want. I want to be a great writer & public speaker. I am not there today, but I am clear on my vision for the future. If you want to loose 20 pounds and run your first half-marathon, my best guess is you are not there today, right? But you SEE where it is you want to go — you have that Goal in place.
Then you have to continually be in the mindset that you are achieving this goal. You are this person. You have to constantly tell your mind that this is what you do and who you are! This is where the rubber meets the road because if you don’t stay vigilant in this area — your old, smaller self will return to the helm of your daily thoughts “I can’t run this race” “I am always going to be this weight” “I don’t have what it takes to make this big change in my life” “I like where I am; where I am in comfortable. I don’t want to do these things if they make me uncomfortable”Changing your mindset is the biggest tool you will need in order to Build a Better You.
It’s the fundamental “secret sauce” to making positive, impactful change in your life. This is you living into the LIGHT that is inside of you. I do not believe we were put on this earth to live in darkness, nor to live small. We were meant to do big, bold, meaningful things. When you do this, you shine … and by doing so, you help shine a light for others.
Where are you playing small in your life? Where are you settling or stopping short of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone? What would you really love to be doing if you knew you would not fail? The best thing I know to do is to just DO IT. When I find myself playing small, I feel weak, lethargic, even depressed. When I push myself to play bigger, I feel creative, alive, awake, energized!
I know we all have the ability to manifest what it is we truly want in our lives. The question is will you do the work? Will you do it??
Will you build the better version of yourself so that you can be the best YOU you’ve got??
I am not the best runner. I am not the fastest. And Lord knows I am not the most graceful. But I run so I can get better, faster, and improve my form. I run so I can exercise not only my body, but also my brain. When I accomplish things in the running world that once seemed impossible to me, it is a reminder to examine other areas in my life where I might be selling myself short so I can get busy building a better ME!Get busy building. There is a bigger, bolder, better YOU waiting to be built! Cheers!
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I've been doing some hard work lately -- trying to clear mental blocks of fear and anxiety as it pertains to money. This is area I really struggle in... a constant battle I have to be hyper vigilant against. My gosh, the time I've wasted on worrying about things that never, ever came to fruition. TRUE STORY -- I once was so convinced we were going to lose our house to foreclosure. I already had the whole scenario playing out in my head.... yet we have NEVER, not even once, missed a house payment!! What in the hell was that all about???? Just plain old FEAR
. It had no basis in reality. They say Fear is nothing more than just False Evidence Appearing Real. What negative thoughts are going through your head? What are you worrying about that is absolutely unfounded in this moment of time?
As I've learned from some pretty amazing coaches (one being my husband, Kyle Pertuis of MindFit Coaching
) -- these are nothing more than Limiting Beliefs. When we believe these lies about ourself, we sell ourselves short. We live small. We play it safe. We stay inside-the-box. We tell ourselves this is just "life". Maybe so, but is that really living?
There are times I can very easily see the positive side to things. I can very easily dismiss the negative thoughts and see only the LIGHT. But trust me --- there are also plenty of times that I struggle with this. There are times I get STUCK IN THE DARK. This always feels "heavy" to me.... depressing, ominous, scary. Its a place I try to snap out of as quickly as possible because never, ever, ever does anything good, happy, or positive come from this place. Over the years -- what has helped me is to NAME THIS. I personally call it the Devil. When I feel my mind racing to these stupid, crappy thoughts, I stop myself and say, "Well, Hello there, Devil. I see you! I see what you're trying to do. You just want me to be stuck in this darkness, but oh, no no no -- you will not have power over me. I am stronger and better than you."
-- Immediately, I feel the sense of control come back into my court and I am able to shift back into the light.
Folks -- this is work I've been working on for quiet some time. This is what ultimately led me to start LIGHTbeamers
because I felt so empowered and capable every single time I acknowledged the light and allowed myself to BE in it, I wanted to shine it for others!!
As a result, my load has lightened. Not always, because I am a work in progress. I STILL have work to do.... but I am so much further ahead than I was 5-6 years ago. I am much further ahead than I was 2 years ago. I am much further ahead than I was 6-months ago because I continue to train my brain, and focus on the light.
I want you to join me. I want this to be an #uprisingoflight
because I know we need it. I know the struggle. I know the stupid stories we tell ourselves. I know the ways we LIVE SMALL.... and I want us to LIVE LARGE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want us to dream those dreams and BELIEVE THEM TO BE TRUE.
I have been giving considerable thought lately to what exactly LIGHTBeamers
is, should be, the potential it has to change lives. It's sounds so grandiose even just typing it -- but truth be told, I FEEL LED to keep talking about it, to keep sharing my stories, your stories, other people's stories so that we can all shift our mindsets and BE THE LIGHT. Imagine your world 6-months from now, 2 years from now, 5-6 years from now if you commit to this type of personal work of shifting your mindset!!
Thank you for being here with me, and allowing me to share a big piece of my heart with you.xoxo,APRIL
Be sure to Follow LIGHTbeamers on FacebookJoin our Vibrant & Engaging LIGHTbeamers Community - a Private FB Group! Continue the Conversation on Twitter - #LIGHTbeamers
The Finish line of the Palmetto 200 Relay Race, ran in memory of Russell Hinson.
Have you ever done something so outside your box that when you’re done, you realize your box was entirely too small? That “something” has changed you and shaped you in a way you’ll never be able to go back to who you were before, the oversized you fitting into the too small box? I suspect we are all a bit oversized for our boxes, we just don’t realize it. Some of us haven’t seen the bulges and cracks the box suffers from our attempt to live comfortably inside of it. Our small boxes really want us to move the hell out, find a bigger space, move on to newer and bigger boxes but our eyes are still blinded by the comfort and safety we think the smaller box provides. We don’t see the cracks…. but God does. He knows how to move us out of those contraptions — and He will come up with the craziest of ways to show you how. I really think this is quiet fun for God. I think He has one helluva good time coming up with ways to teach us we are capable of so much more, that we are meant for very large boxes filled with extraordinary experiences and people. Making the Handoff between Leg #13 and #14
Up until last week, myself and a group of my workout buddies (really — they are so much more than that label. They are my dear friends. We have formed a bond that is hard to articulate and name. We know it is special. We call ourselves The Village)… so The Village had been training for the Palmetto 200 — a relay race that starts in Columbia, SC and ends 205 miles later in Charleston within a 24 hour timeframe. Each of our 12 member team had been assigned legs — 3 a piece — and we were divided into two Vans. The spreadsheet was set. Our individual paces calculated. Our expected times for completion totaled. Each of our legs were mapped from point A to point B, with details of elevation, difficulty, and distance. Then — one of our teammates’ husband died unexpectedly. She was out…. and then, so were we. We collectively agreed running the race was no longer an option when one of our Villagers was down. But then, she asked us not to cancel. She wanted us to run it without her. She had even orchestrated the details of her husband’s funeral to ensure we could attend and still run the race. From there, one of the Villagers coined the phrase: Running for Russell. That was it!! We knew we had to put our own sorrow aside and do this for our friend, Erin and her departed husband, Russell. We rallied to revamp our plan — a fellow Villager stepped up and agreed to run in her place. Other teammates took on longer miles to make other necessary adjustments. Another Villager baked us cookies and sent along encouraging notes in the bag. We made arrangements to finish the race and return home in time to attend Russell’s funeral. It all happened so fast, but our purpose had been renewed and it had a name: Running for Russell.
Heading into the race, none of us exactly knew what to expect as none of us had ever run a relay like this. This was most definitely going to push us outside of our boxes, push us beyond the comfort of what we knew to be normal. There were going to be long, formidable runs. There were going to be lonely, dark roads to cross. There were going to be sufferable hours without sleep. There were going to be moments that would require us to dig deep to move beyond our mental fears and physical pain. We all expected this. But the 33 hours that unfolded from the time Van #1 kicked off the event until our final runner crossed the finish line was nothing short of phenomenal. Actually, there are many words I’d use to describe the whole experience: emotional, beautiful, hard, hysterical, delirious, exhilarating, painful. Throughout those 205 miles were moments of encouragement and support, moments of laughter and silly fun, moments that rallied an entire van and reminded us all that our pain, our fears, and our shortcomings meant nothing. This was not about us — this was about a man who left this world too soon, and about the family he left behind. It was an undercurrent we could all feel — we felt its power and its levity. We turned our pain into prayers and our fears into motivation. Running for Russell became our mantra and it fueled us all the way to the end.
Wikipedia (a favorite resource of Russell’s)
explains a Village as this: A village
is a clustered human settlement
. I have a new definition — a Village is a group of people who grab your heart in their hand, look you square in the eye, and without saying a single word promise to be the “do-whatever-you-need-me-to-do-when-life-is-no-longer-pretty” kind of friend.
It was said at Russell’s service that he was always challenging others to good conversation, asking excellent questions that prompted one to give good thought to their answers. A curious fella who was in constant study of life — using a unique lens through which to view the world and live far outside his comfortable box.
It was also mentioned at his funeral the power of this Village. I could feel the hearts of every single Villager in attendance swell. This word has become so sacred to us. We are so much more than a clustered human settlement or community — we are bonded by more than just geographical location; we are bonded by life in all of its beauty and pain.
Russell’s death ended a long suffering battle with a disease that greatly limited his mobility. In particular, he was riddled with pain in his leg and could not walk without assistance. Because of Russell’s condition, he stayed mostly at home and, as a result, a good many of us who ran the race had never met him. It was Erin who our hearts poured out for — and it was probably more appropriate to say we were Running for Erin. Yet, clearly Russell played an even bigger role in our run…. for I believe it was Russell who ran for us
. Though I never met Russell, I imagined his legs running those miles, his smile as he crossed each check point, his heart pumping red, hot blood through his healthy veins, and his family cheering him on every step. It was his spirit that kept us going, that gave our legs their power, that quelled the fears in our minds, and that grew the love of our Village, and that will continue to inspire us far past the finish line. I think Russell is still running for us…. somewhere... and he’s challenging us to the conversation; asking us to examine the cracks and bulges of our small comfortable boxes and step out into the beautiful, bright unknown.
Russell Hinson leaves behind his beautiful wife, Erin, and their 3 children: 10-year old twins Charlie and Poppy, and 5-year old Mary Hazel. A donation site has been established to help offset the overwhelming financial burden of losing the man of the house, years of medical bills, and unexpected funeral costs. Even small donations will help the Hinson family as they resettle into their new life without Russell. Thank you for your prayers & consideration. Please visit this link to donate: Two Possums and a Bug