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A Runner’s Prayer

Praise God, you running feet and creaking knees…

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I’ve got an anniversary this week: five years since my open-heart surgery on December 7. I’m going to mark the day by running to work in the morning, a lovely 9.5 mile run along the Hudson River and then snaking through Midtown traffic to our offices across from the Empire State Building. A way to thank God for good doctors, a good hospital and my own good health. Hallelujah.

Praise is something that makes the run go faster. In fact, whenever I run I usually carry a Xeroxed copy of a psalm I’m trying to memorize. Right now it’s Psalm 148, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink prayer: Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea-monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and fog, tempestuous wind, doing his will; mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds…

Talk about inclusive—even the sea monsters and tempestuous winds are urged to praise God. Odder still, inanimate objects like hills, fruit trees and cedars can somehow manage to praise God. When I run and see the rising sun hit the palisades across the river or the wind shimmering through the fruit trees, I can see how they do it. I’m even tempted to add a few verses of my own:

Praise God, you running feet and creaking knees,
Praise him, you fixed-up heart and aging frame.
Praise him with every breath from 183rd St. to 34th St.
Praise him, you cracked sidewalks and changing stoplights.
Praise him, every commuter in slow-moving cars and buses
Praise him, every straphanger on every subway beneath my feet.
Praise God for this glorious day.

Someday I won’t be able to run 9.5 miles. Fine. But today I can and if that’s not a way to praise God, I don’t know what is.

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