Running as a Sacrament – What?

The Last Supper in Milan (1498), by Leonardo d...
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So far in this series on the spiritual side of running we’ve talked about a lot of issues that are pretty forthright.  The next topic in Running the Sacred Art is a little harder to talk about because it has more theological underpinnings and isn’t as widely acknowledged across religious groups – sacraments.

First, lets look at Warren Kay’s definition of the sacramental thinking which occurs during a “sacramental run.”

An experiential kind of knowing that involves your heart, your emotions, even your instincts and intuition.

Sacramental runs occur when you have an intimate experience of God.  Kay’s definition of sacramental is:

When God is revealed and when we are ready and waiting the sign is received. Experiences like that are called sacramental. They are possible not only because the Divine reaches out to us, but also because we have been given the capacity – the grace, if you will – to respond. (pg 91)

I told you this was a little harder to grasp! The Christian tradition has two major sacraments – baptism and communion or the Lord’s Supper.  The Catholic church has 5 sacraments. Kay quotes St Augustine, a 5th century scholar, who defines sacraments as a “visible sign of an invisible reality.”

So what does this have to do with running? Excellent question. I think what Kay is getting at is that through running when can get a glimpse of the divine presence around us. He talks about the runner’s high and how it is something “magical” that sometimes happens while running.  It can’t be forced but it happens.

One thing he suggests is to ensure that you live a balanced life.  More than just making sure to balance work and family commitments, Kay suggests we seek balance between the spiritual and material – the body and soul.  He believes, and I think it makes sense, that when we are running we are expressing our bodies in a physical way that can open our heart and mind to the spiritual realm.

I feel this is the hardest section for me personally to grasp – what do you think? I’ve been a Christian most of my life, even attending a Christian university and the idea of the sacrament is still not something I completely understand. Let alone the connection to running. Do you have any insights??

[tags] Warren Kay, Spiritual, Sacred Art of Running, Sacraments [/tags]

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