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Running Theologian’s Tips for Running in the Heat

Here in Boston- ITS HOT! Many days, even if you get up at 6 or 7am, it is still already in the 70s with high humidity (therefore, I will not include “run early in the mornings” as a tip here- that’s already obvious- you can thank me later :P). This is difficult for runners both mentally and physically. Its important to remember that it is necessary to adjust your expectations. We are human.

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  1. Carry water with you. I recommend the Amphipod Jett-Lite Thermal. The pouch is big enough to hold keys and gels. However, if you like to run with more stuff, you can buy a bigger one. Remember to drink at regular intervals- every mile or even every half-mile. Don’t wait until you are thirsty- THIRSTY IS ALREADY DEHYDRATED.
  2. Carry salt tablets. You LOSE A LOT OF SALT. These come in handy if you start feeling lightheaded. I really thought they were ridiculous but they have helped me to not crash and burn on more than one occasion. These are the kind I used for my last marathon. Just make sure you take them with water.
  3. Plan water stops if you are going longer than a couple of miles. Even with a handheld, if you are doing a 17 mile marathon training run, you are going to need to fill up. If you cannot find water fountains, local businesses are often accommodating. So are fire departments, libraries, or gyms. I often plan my summer long runs to stop halfway around the Boston College campus so I can stop in the cafeteria to fill my water bottle.
  4. Wear sun screen. Even if the temperature is not the high, if the sun is out, you are likely to get burned. Believe me, I have learned this the hard way.
  5. Stay close by. If it’s hot, I try to do routes that are close to home so that I am never super far away if I start to feel sick.
  6. Wear a Band ID on your wristwatch. My fiance bought me this for Christmas last year. While I thankfully have never needed it yet, I am comforted by the fact it is there.
  7. Adjust your expectations. Your long runs may not be as long, your tempo runs may not be as fast, etc.- THAT IS OK. Run by effort instead of pace. For example, my tempo run last week was more like a marathon pace run, but it sure felt like a tempo run due to the heat. You will still reap the benefits.
  8. Be flexible in your schedule if you can. I try to look at the weekly weather forecast at the start of each week. Tuesday might be speed work day but if the weather forecast says Wednesday or Thursday is going to be the coldest day of the week, you might want to try to switch things up. Saturdays are typically long run days, but I’ll switch to Friday or Sunday if it looks like it will be easier.
  9. Wear as light of clothing as you can. Now is not the time to be self-conscious. You are a human being running. Therefore, YOU LOOK LIKE A RUNNER AND YOU DESERVE TO WEAR WHATEVER MAKES YOU COMFORTABLE. You will feel much better in a sports bra and shorts than a tank top and long leggings. Nobody in the whole entire universe is perfectly happy with their legs or their butt or their stomach, etc.
  10. If you are feeling famished upon returning, try a protein shake before hoping in the shower. I recommend Muscle Milk- I love it because its sugar free (at least the version I buy, you can get ones with sugar), it has 20 grams of  protein in one container, its lactose and dairy free and it tastes great. Trying to eat something big immediately after a long run can cause an upset stomach (of course, Muscle Milk is not a meal, so do eat something more substantial after you’ve showered, etc.)
  11. Continue to hydrate throughout the day after you return. I love Propel Fitness Water. 
  12. Be careful of both coffee and alcohol. On really hot days, I try to have tea instead of coffee in the afternoon since tea hydrates and coffee dehydrates. Starbucks Iced Passion Tango tea is a great caffeine- free option.  Obviously, I am not one to tell people who are over 21 they can’t have a celebratory drink after a hard work out (those who know me know I like my vodka and my whiskey), but I recommend waiting several hours after you have finished exercise and only imbibing if you are feeling OK.
  13. I know this is gross, but keep track of the color of your urine throughout the day. If its dark, you are dehydrated. If it is clear, you are over hydrated. It should be pale yellow.
  14. Listen to your body. You may be hungrier and thirstier than usual. That’s normal in this weather. Keep drinks and snacks near you all day.
  15. Don’t be afraid to take an extra recovery day in your training, you are working extra hard.
  16. Stop exercising and seek medical attention immediately if you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of heat related illness listed below.

Heat Exhaustion: ashen skin, goose bumps, headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, decreased muscle coordination.

Heat Stroke: disorientation, confusion, dizziness, unusual behavior, headache, inability to walk, loss of balance, profound fatigue, hyperventilation, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium

Stay safe and happy running! 🙂

Team Mroz Weinstein- Established August 4, 2018

My fiancé, Bryan, and I have officially announced our wedding date. Shortly before the announcement, our friend Sam took engagement photos of us.  We wanted some of our pictures to have a running theme. Our love for working out has shown us that we are better together than we are alone.

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We both enjoy running and weight lifting, but our commitment to each differs. I am an avid runner and like racing distances like the half-marathon and marathon. Bryan is an avid weight lifter, and prefers shorter distance races like the 5k and half-marathon. His main focus is being stronger and lifting heavier, my main focus is running faster and longer. While some would say that I should be focusing on trying to convince Bryan he needs to run a marathon, or that he should convince me to cut back on the races and focus on being a stronger lifter, neither one of us really wants the other to change.

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Bryan’s passion for strength training helps me. Shortly after we started dating, he got me started on a lifting program, something I was never interested in before we met. Because of him, I can now, as a 28 year-old woman, do more pull-ups than I could as a fourteen year old kid! I go to him for advice whenever I need to work on strengthening certain muscles or when I am concerned about a potential injury.

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My love of running has also, I believe, benefitted Bryan. Shortly after we started dating and I started following a weight-lifting program, he completed his first 5k (which was way better than my first 5k- kind of jealous!) and later on, a half-marathon. He won an age group award at his second 5k. He goes to me for advice on racing strategies and good running workouts.

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We are truly a team. I never thought I would ever be strong enough to complete a marathon, but Bryan believed in me. I love to tell the story of when I reached mile 26 of my first marathon. Bryan was running toward me frantically. I expected to hear words like “you’re doing great honey!” but instead I got “Hurry up! Hurry up!” I was kind of angry at first, but when I saw the clock and realized I could qualify for Boston, I understood.

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Team Mroz-Weinstein extends beyond the gym. We are both doctoral students in (hopefully) our last year of studies. I have sat through many physics presentation and proofread many lab reports. Bryan has attended theology conferences and proofread many papers on feminist theology or interreligious dialogue.

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Being graduate students and runners together has given us a greater understanding of what love should be. Love is when your dream becomes his dream, and his dream becomes your dream.

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If you like these photos, check out more of Sam’s work here   or send him an e-mail at photography@hermeneuticlens.com.

Marathon #2- Dehydration, Praying the Rosary, and Achieving my Goal in Martha’s Vineyard

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On May 21, 2017, I ran the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon. As many of you know, my first marathon was back in October. I BQed with a 3:33:27 (the qualifying time for my age group is 3:35 or under). However, the cutoff for getting into the 2017 Boston Marathon was -2.09 and even worse in 2016. Running Boston has been a dream of mine, so I wanted to try again to get a faster time so my acceptance would be guaranteed.

My fiancé, who has been very supportive of my Boston 2018 dream, was kind enough to purchase my registration and book a hotel room in Cape Cod the night before the race. He kept saying he believed in me, but also kept reassuring me that he would be happy with his investment even if something went wrong. Nevertheless, I was extremely nervous the week leading up to the race, probably even more nervous than my first marathon, since I now had a goal besides finishing.

Training: I had to start my training plan later than I wanted due to a rib and foot injury that occurred during a tempo run in early February. Thankfully, the sports medicine physicians at Boston College had me healed in time to do a solid 12 weeks training plan. Seriously, big shout out to them- BC Eagles are in good hands! Each week, I made sure to do 1-2 speed sessions, 1-2 strength training sessions, and 1 long run. I decided to peak at 22 miles instead of 20 to give myself a confidence booster in the final miles of the race. I also decided to see a nutritionist so I’d be fueling better.

Pre-Race: Woke up at 3am (which wasn’t really waking up, I was up the whole night anyway) to drink hot tea to ensure I’d go to the bathroom (sorry to be blunt- but its important in a race!) Bryan and I got on a 6:30am ferry to Martha’s Vineyard where a race bus picked us up to bring us to the starting line at Vineyard Haven. I forced a banana and some protein bar bites down my throat on the ferry (yes, literally forced since I tend to work out before breakfast and I am never hungry in the mornings and YOU CANNOT ALWAYS RELY ON YOUR HUNGER ON MARATHON MORNING- past Kate mistake #1). Due to my paranoia, we were at the starting line very early- 7:25 for an 8:30 race.

When the time finally came, I lined up with the 3:30 pace group with my 4 GU gels and salt tablets around my waist. I was convinced the salt was excess but my nutritionist said they were important, and my fiancé made me shove them in my Fit Belt before the race. I debated going for 3:25, but decided it would be best to start conservatively and speed up at the end. My goal was 3:32 or under to be safe for Boston Marathon registration. I instantly made friends with two fellow graduate students from Boston, one from BC and one from BU. For the first 10 miles, we were having a blast talking to each other. There was a huge group of us. The course was scenic and mostly flat, though the few hills located between miles 8-12 had were short but super steep. I did my first GU gel at mile 7- BECAUSE YOU NEED TO DO YOUR GU BEFORE YOU FEEL HUNGRY AND NOT WAIT UNTIL MILE 13- TRUST ME (past Kate mistake #2). I did my next GU at the halfway point. From miles 1-13, I do not notice that the water stations are every 2 miles instead of every mile. I just take one cup at each station and don’t even worry about drinking the whole thing. At mile 14, I actually drank one half and poured the other over my head. Bad move.

At mile 17, everyone stops talking completely. It is now very hot and I am looking forward to every water station like it is my long lost best friend I have not seen in 20 years. Then, I drop a GU. I see it fall and go to pick it up but there are so many feet behind me, it’s not possible. Not wanting to go back and mess up my time, I keep running but I am panicked. I want a gel now, but since I am down to only one, I need to save it for later. No one around me has any extra nutrition to offer.

At mile 19, I suddenly realize I might be in trouble. I feel really dehydrated and weak, yet somehow do a 7:58 split. At the mile 20 water station, I decide to forgo the normal “Don’t try anything new on race day” advice and drink whatever I can get my hands on, as I realize my body needs all the nourishment it can get! I take a cup of Tri-fuel (which I have never even heard of or drank before) and two cups of water and drink them while running, hoping they will get me to mile 22. I also chew two salt tablets. Damn. I have to admit I was wrong about those things!

Feeling a bit better, I then come to a startling realization- it is just me and my BC buddy- no one is visible either ahead of us or behind us. It’s her first marathon, she is flipping out, and she looks to me to help pace her the rest of the way. I tell her, “its going to be OK, you and me are going to BQ, we got this,” but inside my head I am saying, “Its not OK. We’re in trouble. I don’t want to die before I reach the finish line.”

At mile 21, I already need more water, but there is none. My friend and I yell to random spectators that we are dehydrated (yes, its amazing what marathons make you do) and a nice young man comes out with his water bottle and lets us sip from it. “God Bless you young man! May God Bless you!”

I take my last GU but it does nothing. I am trying to continue with my mile dedications, but its getting hard to remember whom each mile is for- sometimes I do not start praying for whomever I am supposed to pray for until the middle of the mile (though I really did manage to get all 26 intentions in- I promise- just some were waayyy shorter than others!)

My friend and I separate. At mile 22, I am all alone and I do not feel like I have 4 more miles in me. It is here that I decide I am going to pray the Rosary for the rest of the race (while stopping quickly mention the names of the people who had the last 4 miles). “Mother Mary, run with me!”

At mile 23, I am still saying my Hail Mary’s, though I am losing count. I look over and see a beautiful view of the beach. “God is with me. I am not alone.”

At mile 24, I pass a young man and he yells, “You go girl! You got this!” He is so passionate and it really cheers me up- how I wish I could hug that stranger now. “God is still with me. I’m so dehydrated and its so hot, but I’m going to do this.” I look at my watch. My pace has dropped to 8:30, I realize I can finish with a 3:32 even if I do 10 minute miles. “I can do 10 minute miles. Well, maybe…” I know I need to take it easy now so I back off for a bit since I know there will now be no more water until I finish.

Still saying the Rosary, I see mile 25 and speed up. Volunteers are being so helpful with their cheering. They can tell by the look on my face that I am uncomfortable and dehydrated. Mile 25 is Bryan’s mile, which is perfect. I want to stop, but I remember the money and time he has sacrificed to get me to the Boston Marathon (not to mention putting up with my nerves the week before the race). There is no way I am leaving this island without a sub 3:32. “Do it for Bryan.” 8:06 split.

Mile 26 marker. Its sooner than I expect to see him but there is Bryan. He looks worried. There is no “I love you honey” or “looking great sweetie,” just “you gotta start sprinting, you gotta sprint, you still have a shot but you gotta sprint.” Exactly what a severely dehydrated girl wants to hear at mile 26, right? 😉

I keep sprinting, thinking that the finish line will appear any minute- but it is not there. “Did I run past it, where is it?” I start cussing. I realize now that it is a circle. The finish line is not right in front of me like I thought. I have to turn and then sprint another 400 meters to the finish. That might not sound far but at this point I feel so sick that I actually wonder if I will make there without collapsing.

I turn and turn again, and there is Bryan at the beginning of the straightaway. He is filming me, here is where I get to hear, “Here comes Kate- she’s gonna do it! Run, Kate, run! Go Kate!” That’s all I need. I’m so afraid to look at the clock, but I know I need to in order to convince myself to keep running. The clock is only at 3:30 or at least that what’s it looks like! I sprint until right before I get to the clock and I walk over the finish line. Oh God, I want Bryan, I want my mom. A woman around my mom’s age is handing out medals and she can tell something is not right. “Are you OK sweetie?” I want to cry. “I don’t feel good!”

The medic grabs me. I see Bryan running toward me with Muscle Milk, so I tell the medic I am fine. Seriously, I know it is hot and I want him to spend his time elsewhere, since I am now confident I am OK. The medic still insists on bringing me to the tent and making me sit in a chair.

As he was instructed to do before the race, Bryan opens the Muscle Milk and brings it to my lips. “No, no! Don’t give me that! Water! Water, I need water first!” Startled, he takes out regular water and Propel Water. Poor guy. I really did tell him to give me a Muscle Milk as soon as I crossed the finish line, but I did not expect to be so dehydrated. The thought of anything but water sickens me.

Bryan is also concerned because I am not saying anything about beating my time goal. I am feeling so sick that I am not really sure what happened. For the next minute , we exchange a hilarious dialogue of

“Did I do it?”

“Yes, Kate?”

“Am I going to Boston?”

“Yes, Kate, I told you that 2 seconds ago.”

“Did I do it?”
“Keep drinking, Kate, keep drinking”

“OK, but slow down, I need time to drink what’s in my hand before you shove more fluids in my face.”

Believe me, it sounds worse than it was. Within 2-3 minutes, I am feeling a lot better and know I am going to be totally fine. The medic brings my BC buddy over, who also got a BQ. We might have gone through hell from mile 20-26, but we did it! The medic has long since forgotten about me. There are lots of people feeling worse. Someone screams for salt tablets for her daughter and I pull out of my belt what I argued four hours earlier that I did not have room for or need. So glad I bought them! Nutritionist and Bryan=1, Me=0.

Back to my normal self (or usual self, I should say, I have never been normal), I feel like the biggest asshole. Bryan is wearing a medal. He ran too. “Oh my God, sweetie, how was your half?”

1:48:34. He crushed it! I am so proud! A 2 minute PR, even though he experienced dehydration at the end too but didn’t have anyone to take care of him like I did.

Bryan then informs me that I have won an age group award. Totally unexpected! I pick up my award and then eat a bagel with peanut butter.

Wearing our medals, I ask someone to take a picture of us. I am too tired to write anything long, so for Facebook, I just post, “I’m running Boston in 2018, I love you Bryan!”

We walk to the ferry very comfortably. Thankfully, after this race, I am not that sore. It’s a great improvement given that after my last marathon, my knees were in agony and I could barely get up the two steps to my apartment. YOU SHOULD WALK FOR A BIT AFTER YOUR FINISH A MARATHON EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT- TRUST ME (past Kate mistake #3).

We get on the ferry. Medals around my neck, Bryan’s arm around me, I eat BFresh Homemade Peanut Butter right out of the container with a spoon and take in the beauty of the ocean. I’m so glad to be alive and that I have proven to myself that I am stronger than I could ever have imagined. This time, I make a resolution to take two weeks off from working out (as is recommended by most physicians and running experts) to let my body recover. I know I need to take care of my body, and that I am better off when I do so.

“Thank you Mother Mary.”

Overall Race Review (if you are interested):

Taking into consideration that this was its first year, I give lots of kudos to the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The course was relatively flat, with a few short, steep hills and the views were beautiful. The DJ was a lot of fun, and listening to him calmed me down at the starting line. He was very positive and motivational. The volunteers and spectators were wonderful. Even when I was running alone, I was never afraid of getting lost and always knew what direction to take. There were tons of people cheering for me at the parts of the race where I needed it most. The medals, both for finishing and for the age group award, were very nice. They provided a truck to take our bags safely from the starting line to the finish line. The swag bag was also pretty nice, it included a gym bag, a visor, and a short sleeve athletic shirt.

However, the water stops every two miles was not enough when it got to the later parts of the race. Also, gels were only offered at mile 12 and I really wish they were available at other stations. I believe my time would have been a few minutes faster had there been more water and nutrition on the course. The finish line food was also disappointing, especially considering how many great vendors are in Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod! There were only bars, chips, and water. Thankfully, it was OK for me since I always bring my own bagel. Another complaint was that the Athlete Alerts did not work. My parents and Bryan signed up for them to see when I crossed miles 6, 13, 18, and 22, but never got any messages. However, I could view my splits online and they were e-mailed to me soon after I finished, which was very helpful.

Overall, I would do this marathon again and I would highly recommend it to friends (I am 99% sure they are going to fix the water thing next year!). A lot of people were steered away from this marathon because of the expense of staying in Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, the hotels on the Vineyard are expensive and required a two-night minimum stay. However, Bryan and I saved money by staying in Wood’s Hole. We cannot stop signing the praises of the Sands of Time Motel, which allowed us to stay for just one night. It was clean, comfortable, and a 5 minute walk from the Ferry and Pie in the Sky Bakery (good post-race treats!). The beach was right near by and it was great for walking around the day before the race. The staff could not have been more accommodating. I called ahead the night before and requested a refrigerator for our room so we could store our pre-race food, and they were happy to give us one. They normally start brewing hot water every morning at 6am, but happily started brewing at 5am the morning of the race so we could have coffee and tea before getting on the ferry. They were stocked with maps and tourist booklets, and had ferry tickets available for purchase. We definitely plan on staying there again!

 

 

Ash Wednesday: A Reminder that We Have Faith Even if it’s the Size of a Mustard Seed

It must seem odd to those who are not Christian. On one Wednesday every year, we can observe people walking around with ashes on their foreheads. They are supposed to be in the shape of a cross, but many times they end up looking more like a big black blob. And people have this mark on their forehead throughout all of their normal daily activities- at school, at work, at the gym. If you go to the supermarket or the doctor’s office, there’s sure to be plenty of people with blobs on their heads! When you think about, it’s pretty strange.

Of course, on Ash Wednesday, just like Palm Sunday (hence the name A&P Catholics- those who only go to church to get their ashes and palms), a lot of people feel the need to go to church, even if they do not go on a regular basis. Hence, many ask why some people care so much about getting ashes when they do not bother to pray, or go to church on Sundays, and even, in the case of some, when they are not sure they even believe in God or want to be Catholic. Yet, to me, there is something beautiful about this “need” to get ashes. Something compels us to do it, Something beyond us that we cannot quite explain. We may not always “act” like believers, but some small part of us “believes.”

Ash Wednesday also reminds us that through our mutual observance of the beginning of Lent, we are united with Christians all over the world. I love thinking about all the different places I’ve received ashes in my life based on where I was or what I was doing. In elementary school, I can still remember the mass exodus of Catholic kids heading to the local church across the street after the bell rang. During college at Fordham, I have fond memories of being a cantor at the evening Ash Wednesday mass. During my masters degree at Harvard, which was my first time in a non-Catholic environment, I remember being so excited that I was receiving ashes from the Lutherans one year, and the Presbyterians another. Every year, I also seem to exchange stories with my family, “Where did you get your ashes this year? Who said the mass or lead the service? Did you see anyone we know? …. ”

This year at Boston College, I went to the 12:15pm liturgy at the School of Theology and Ministry. It was refreshing to go to my office across campus afterwards, and to see the ashes on the foreheads of many of my colleagues. In spite of all the suffering and anxiety in the world, in spite of the fact that our faith in God is constantly challenged, faith still exists. Even if it is the size of a “mustard seed,” it is there. And even faith the size of a “mustard seed” is big enough to keep growing and to accomplish great things.

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

 

Responding to Orlando as a Catholic: The Need to Feel Challenged and Uncomfortable

In the wake of the shooting in Orlando last week, I have been wondering what a heterosexual Catholic woman in academia is supposed to say. It is obvious from the timing of this post, I put off publishing a blog, and the one I am sharing now has been through numerous drafts.

Just a short while ago, I came across an article written by Paul Reid-Bowen, a male scholar of religion who asks the question of whether one can be a man, and still write about feminism from a position of advocacy and commitment. He acknowledges that as a man in a patriarchal culture, his sexual difference is problematic for feminism. If this were not the case, feminism would not need to exist in the first place. Reid-Bowen insists, therefore, that, “if any man is comfortable with feminism, something is amiss.”

As a Catholic woman, it hurts to think about how my church’s position of “Hate the sin, love the sinner” bears responsibility for feelings of homophobia and widespread discrimination against LGBTQ persons. While the church condemns violence against LGBTQ persons, a theology that defines the sacrament of marriage as solely “the union between a man and a woman” and considers homosexual inclinations to be “intrinsically disordered” does nothing to challenge the undeserved dominant position that heterosexual persons enjoy in our church or in society. With this theology, a same-sex couple can never have their union affirmed as sacramental, and being in a same-sex relationship is rendered “sinful,” for no other reason than that it defies the traditional male-female gender binary. It is no wonder that a Catholic child who does not fit neatly into traditional gender stereotypes might grow up feeling frightened and ashamed, and at risk for depression and even suicide. A lot of Catholics are afraid to publicly commit to a theology that embraces LGBTQ persons as the “image of God,” rather than persons with a disorder that needs correction, or to publicly support the availability of the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples who love each other. We fear not only condemnation from fellow Catholics and from clergy in positions of power, but we also fear having to come face to face with our own responsibility for events like Orlando. We fear being “radical.”

I do not feel I have the right to say exactly what the Catholic Church needs to do to support the LGBTQ community right now. But I must say that I think that a shift in theology and Church teaching would be a step in the direction, precisely because the full affirmation of LGBTQ persons and relationships would be “radical.” In other words, when entering a position of advocacy for and commitment to the LGBTQ community, heterosexual Catholics and those in positions of power in the church are supposed to feel challenged and uncomfortable, or else “something is amiss.”

Finally, I speak of the need for a new theology not to be “politically correct,” but because this is what I believe is required for Catholic Christians to be disciples of Jesus in today’s world. I can no longer believe in God who is displeased with God’s own creatures solely for being who they are. In the words of Edward Schillebeeckx, “it is better not to believe in God than to believe in a God who enslaves human beings.”

 

 

 

 

Perhaps They Are Drunk- A Reflection on Pentecost Sunday

Since today is Pentecost Sunday, I found myself reading Acts 2, the part of the New Testament whereby the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples gathered in the upper room, enabling them to speak in tongues.

Acts 2:5-12 tell us:

 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome  (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

However, in Acts 2:13, we read, Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Upon reading that last passage, I laughed out loud. It sounds like something my friends and I say to one another today! Somebody starts singing at the party, we say “they must have had too much wine.” Somebody with a busy schedule wants to take extra classes, we ask, “are you sure you are not drunk?” We even say it of ourselves. “I decided to run a marathon, I must be drunk.”” I decided to stay in school for another five years, I must be drunk.” Except for maybe the party, when we say “we must have been drunk,” we often do not mean that we literally drank a whole bottle of wine at the time of our decision. It is simply an expression to note that we have done something that people might think is “crazy.” At the time of Pentecost, speaking in tongues was kind of, for lack  of a better word, “crazy.” Even crazier was how all were heard in their own native language. What a beautiful testament to the diversity of ways of speaking to and about God.

When we make an “outlandish decision,” it can be frightening. Some people are amazed at us, but others will make fun of us. “You’re majoring in what?- You’re never going to get a job!” “Oh my God, you are going to talk to that homeless man on the street? He looks dirty!”

In today’s world, we can even say that believing in God is “crazy.” Two planes fly into the World Trade Center. Children die of cancer. Hurricanes and tornadoes devastate cities. People injure one another physically and emotionally, they break one another’s trust. Where is God in all this? Yet, believers still attend worship services. They still pray to God before bed every night. They still thank God for their blessings and praise God’s name. Some even dedicate their lives to God, vowing themselves to a life of celibacy and poverty.  How? Perhaps they’ve “had too much wine.”

As Christians, it seems as though we are called to do the “outlandish” and “crazy.” We are followers of Jesus, and that means we often must take the road that is less popular and less comfortable. That means, when having a party, we invite the person who all of our peers say is “uncool.” When we see a homeless person on the street, we go and buy them something to eat and chat with them, rather than passing them by like they are less than human. Instead of simply writing #yesallwomen on our Facebook pages, we proudly incorporate feminine language into our talk about God, even if some people laugh at us for being “ridiculous.” We sacrifice our summers or times of relaxation to help persons in need, sometimes traveling to places far from home. We decide to study something we think is important and has the potential to transform lives, even if does not yield a lot of money and people say we are “impractical.” We stand in solidarity with those suffering injustice, even if it means risking our own ambitions. We continue to worship and pray to God, even though people tell us our beliefs are “unreasonable,” even though God is not a tangible reality we can perceive with our senses, and remains a mystery we will never fully comprehend. We somehow are able to find God in the strangest of places- in the stranger on the bus, in the old woman begging for change on the street, in the co-worker who is demanding and sometimes gets on our nerves.

Living a Christian life means doing the “crazy” instead of settling for “the non-risky and predictable.” It means not being “normal.” It means being told time and time again, “perhaps you’ve had too much wine.”

 

 

 

 

 

Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

When I was a little girl, reading the Passion on Good Friday always confused and upset me. At our home parish, the congregation always read the parts of the crowd all together. I refused to chant “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “I can’t say that Mom, I just can’t,” I’d whisper. “I don’t want Barabbas, I want Jesus!” I did not want Jesus to die. This was the Son of God who I was told loved me no matter what I did and listened to all of my prayers. I loved him.

It was not until I got older that I realized that we all have crucified Jesus, even though we did not literally put nails into the palms of his hands two thousand years ago. I can say those words this afternoon. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I have crucified him more times than I would like to admit. I crucify him when I hold a grudge against those who have hurt me, instead of forgiving. I crucify him whenever I walk by a homeless person without helping him or her. I crucify him when I put my own needs/wants ahead of others. I crucify him when I let stress get the best of me, and do not treat my loved ones with the kindness and respect they deserve. I crucify him when I do not take care of my own body.

We all crucify Jesus whenever we fail to be inclusive and loving to those around us, whenever we fail to take into account the ways in which we directly or indirectly contribute to the oppression of others.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that acts of kindness make Jesus smile and acts that hurt others make Jesus cry.  Today is Good Friday. As someone who does not fast for health reasons, yet is surrounded by persons who are fasting, I wondered what I should to today. Having a friend up and lots of papers to write, I wondered what activities are appropriate or not appropriate to mark this solemn holy day. I always felt uncomfortable going out (is not exactly the time to be sitting in a loud bar or singing karaoke). Yet, I think that I need to stop worrying about how I am going to cry over Jesus, and instead start worrying about how I am going to stop making Jesus cry. I am certainly not saying that prayer, fasting, and other rituals we engage in are not important, but I need to think about how I am going to stop crucifying Jesus the other 364 days of the year. So, maybe today is a day to meditate on how this Easter can really be a new beginning. Our mourning of Jesus’ death must lead to action.

 

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