born again

My “T” (subway) reading the last few weeks has been Running the Spiritual Path: A Runner’s Guide to Breathing, Meditating, and Exploring the Prayerful Dimension of the Sport, by Roger D. Joslin. It’s great for runners or anyone who wants to integrate more “God time” into their everyday practices. Anyway, here’s a good lil’ nugget from Joslin at the end of Chapter 4, titled “Running with Awareness.” Pay particular attention to the last part about “born-again Christians.”

Running, like most physical exercise, is usually refreshing. Even though you are expending energy and, if you press hard, may be temporarily winded and in need of a brief recovery period, the overall effect is a replenishment of the body’s sense of well-being. If you are tired and sleepy before the run, you are likely to find that the run has awakened your body and your mind. You are renewed by the run. This sense of renewal is at the core of why running can be an important tool in the development of the spirit. Each run can be used to awaken the runner to the presence of the Divine. In her very accessible books on Buddhist practices, Sylvia Boorstein speaks of her desire to be an “awakened Jew” — to move through life with the awareness of the present emphasized by the teachers of Zen Buddhism. We can be awakened Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. Practicing running and living in this awakened state, rather than detracting from our individual religions, makes us far better practitioners of our faith.

Those who profess to be “born again” Christians seem to have missed this point. The statement usually implies that at some time in the born-again Christian’s past he had an experience of Christ entering his life and, along with that entrance, of accepting Christ’s presence. Surely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience of this sort is not sufficient to propel one into the open doors of heaven. This rebirth must happen repeatedly, in fact, constantly. God’s grace is present for us at all times; it is up to the individual to awaken to that presence — to be reborn — over and over again. We sleepwalk through most of our lives. Waking up is our lifelong endeavor. The meditative runner is fortunate enough to have found a way that refreshes his body and renews his spirit — enabling him to be born again every run.

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