I was just about home after going for a wonderful, relaxing run up and down Payson Canyon when I looked up to see my neighbor out on his driveway. The calm feeling that I had earned after those miles to myself came to an abrupt halt because I was sure there would be a judgmental eye or thought directed at me.
Why? Well, because it was a Sunday. I was running on a Sunday.
Now, I don’t ordinarily run on Sundays, and there are several reasons why. As a Christian and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been taught that the Sabbath is a day of worship and of rest and that I should do everything to keep it holy. It is a day when my family and I attend our church services to learn from and teach others and a day when we spend time with each other and with extended family.
Sunday is a special day that I have always held sacred.
However, on this particular Sunday, my family and I had spent a good portion of it driving home from an out-of-state soccer tournament that had extended into Saturday night. For several days, we had been driving from game to game, having a great, yet tiring, time doing so. With one son playing in St. George and one in Mesquite, Nevada, my husband and I had to split driving duties and even had to stay in different places to accommodate the schedule and amount of children on a limited budget.
By the end of the trip, I was exhausted and in need of rest. I needed time to myself to meditate and be grateful.
So not long after returning home, I laced up my shoes, set my body and mind to autopilot, and I ran.
As I did so, I felt my legs move effortlessly along a smooth road. The air had a slight chill that cooled off my body to the perfect temperature. I watched and listened as the Peteetneet Creek that runs down the canyon slowly moved downstream.
I passed some horses that belonged to some local farmers. A flock of pheasants rushed overhead because, as it turned out, my footsteps were not quiet enough to keep the birds from feeling the need to flee from my presence. It was really neat.
Once I reached the sign for the Uinta National Forest, I turned back from home, experiencing much of the same as I had on the way up with a little less effort. I felt completely fulfilled on this Sunday afternoon run that was very much needed.
However, when I saw my neighbor, I was scared of what he might think. I feared I had misrepresented my family, my devotion to my religion and my commitment to keep this day holy. Seconds before passing him, I thought about turning back to avoid what I was sure was eminent, but it was too late.
“How many miles did you run today?” he asked.
“I don’t normally run on Sundays,” was my immediate response, followed by a few other rambling excuses to explain away why I was standing there in my running clothes.
“So, where did you go?” he asked. “My daughter loves to run. She ran Boston (Marathon) last year.”
As I waited for the judging eye and comment, it didn’t come. We just conversed about running, and he kept smiling.
It was then when I realized that I needed that run, and I didn’t need to explain myself to anyone. More than that, people aren’t as judgmental as I thought they were, and I need to stop thinking they are.
I’m not sure when my next Sunday run will be, but next time I will make sure to experience it to the fullest, complete with a confident smile and wave at my friendly neighbor who taught me an important lesson worthy of sharing with you.
Arianne Brown is a mother of eight who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write