my moses moment?

In May, I managed to haul myself across the finish line of a ten mile race. I placed around 41,886 out of 42,000 runners and walked the last three miles of the race, which took place on the surface of the sun. My chip time was far over the stated course limit, but a kindly volunteer still managed to hand me two ice-cold bottles of water, another shoved a bag of junk food in my hands, and a handsome member of the armed forces gave me a medal. Then I sat alone under a tree for half an hour before I came up with the mental and physical energy to figure out how to get myself home (I hadn’t come up with a plan for that because deep down, I kinda’ thought I’d never make it). Some weeks later, when I realized I wouldn’t run unless I had some specific and seemingly impossible goal to work towards, I signed up for a half marathon. I imagine when the November morning arrives, I’ll stake myself firmly in the back of the pack and hold on for dear life.

So, I don’t really understand how I find myself leading an effort to start a running club in my neighborhood. It’s really baffling. Like, monumentally confounding. Running clubs are led by people who own short shorts and who can make themselves go at least the pace of one of the slower mammals. I’m in turtle land. I take WALK breaks to recharge.

It makes no sense on paper, but I feel kinda’ called and mostly at peace with the idea that I don’t fit the common idea of a runner and people* might think I don’t have any business trying to fearlessly lead even the most ragtag group of runners.

Moses keeps coming to mind. “I am nobody,” he said to God. “How can I…?” Now, I’m not trying to equate starting a running club in my neighborhood with leading the Israelites out of slavery and into the promised land. But maybe, just maybe, this little venture will give someone the courage to go for their first run or the accountability to go for their second. Maybe seeing a group of neighbors get together will encourage someone lonely to come on out and meet a new friend. Maybe this most basic of exercises, something you can do without special equipment or a membership to an expensive gym, will strengthen the bridges already under construction. Or maybe it’ll just ensure that once or twice a week, I can’t come up with some lame excuse not to run.

In answer to Moses’ reluctance, God said, “I will be with you.” Talk about an awesome running buddy.

*people in my head, probably, not actual people.

 

that moment

That moment when you realize that the…

  • aches and pains
  • bone-crushing exhaustion
  • total inertia
  • mood swings
  • hiding from people
  • flaking out on responsibilities

Might not be PMS or jet lag.

And you’re already getting pharmaceutical help.

So, there’s some shit you really actually need to deal with, like for real.

Pushing it down with food isn’t working.

Ignoring it isn’t making it go away.

And you don’t really know where to start.

Well, you do.

Well, I do.

But prayers turn to sawdust on my tongue. Tangle in my brain.

If I’m tired of my own voice, surely God is, too.

Tired of the same questions, the same doubts, the same struggle.

So tired.

 

getting published

Well, eventually…

One of the many, many things that I love about Palmer Theological Seminary is that I have been able to explore the intersection of animals and theology throughout my two and a half years. Pretty much every paper I’ve written (even in Church History) dealt in one way or another with human relationships to nonhuman animals. As a result, by the time I graduate in May, I’ll have most, if not all, of a book written on evangelical animal liberation theology. They’ve given me the tools and opportunity to start to work out some pretty big questions. 

So, back in November, in a feat of bravery and optimism, I prepped and submitted a proposal to an editor contact at Baker Books (one of the biggest Christian publishers). I heard back from the editor today, who said he had taken it to the editorial team, and though the topic was important, they didn’t feel there was enough of a market for the work.

I’m discouraged and encouraged.

I’m encouraged because I got past step one. This is HUGE! I got someone not only to look at my proposal, but who thought it decent enough to bring to a broader group. I am thrilled that it wasn’t chucked out at first glance. 

And yet, I still had to fight these demons after I read and processed the email. It was a rejection. There’s no getting around that. I’m not used to rejection, because I don’t frequently do stuff that risks failure (see: resolutions). For a few seconds, I thought to myself, “Who do you think you are? No one will want to read this…you’re arrogant for even trying.” Etcetera etcetera etcetera, ad nauseam.

Then I got bored with my own self-doubt. Fuck that. And yeah, I mean to use harsh language. That shit’s the devil dancing in my head and that particular club is closed.

How many other evangelical Christians are committed to animal liberation? How many others have my experiences, at ESA and at PETA in the U.S. and Europe?  Not many. And while the number of Christians who are rethinking the human/nonhuman animal relationship is growing like wheatgrass in Berkeley, there aren’t many (yet) who are willing and able to beat the drum loud and long. Jesus gave me these passions for a reason. I’m on this path with confidence that my purpose is ordained by God. 

Maybe I’m too used to short-term victories. Quick payoffs. This is a long-haul kind of endeavor. So, after I replied to the kind man at Baker, I sucked up my self-pity and submitted queries to two literary agents today. And I’ll keep risking, writing, thinking, talking, and sometimes shouting as long as it freaking takes.

Bring it on, rejection. Bring. it. on.