As Far as the East is From the West

Dearest Rachel –

As much as we grew up with pastors and Sunday School teachers reminding us that “the Bible is not a science textbook” with regard to poetic turns of phrase like references to the sun rising or the four corners of the earth, sometimes it’s amazing to note the choice of words that were written down. And it may be that the line about separating us from our sins “as far as the east is from the west” might have occurred to the writer as being the distance from say, the straits of Gibraltar to Persia or India or China or thereabouts, and therefore a pretty long way in its own right. But it seems so much more dead-on when you take into account the fully-mapped globe, showing that while north and south have finite, definitive ends, you can, theoretically, keep going east or west indefinitely. Sure, we have artificially marked where each begins and ends, but it’s not like the poles, where you literally cannot keep going north or south once you reach them. It’s wondrous to think of that fact, and how it relates to how far (that is to say, infinitely far) our sins are taken away.

Thankfully, however, that’s not the case in a finite space such as our little village (I say ‘little’ – by population, it’s one of the largest communities in the world that’s still organized as a village). Indeed, if we and my folks had to live on opposite sides of it, it’s so much better that we’re on the west side, and they’re on the east. Otherwise, this transit on foot would be a right challenge. There’s a big difference between three miles (east-west) and ten (north-south).

Especially when you’re walking through the heat of a June morning that feels more like August. The sun is beating down out of a cloudless sky, and the temperatures are well in the 80s, with no shade in sight. Even as I started out, the phone in my pocket began to ring: It was dad, wondering if I’d set out already, and if he could prevail upon me not to walk today.

It’s kind of funny. He was one of the few to advise against trying to attempt the Marathon right from the outset, based on the fact that my health was… not optimal, given my weight at the time (I’ve mentioned to you before how the pandemic turned me into that much more of a sedentary creature than I already was, resulting in a peak weight of nearly 280 pounds as of the end of last year. Now, I’d lost thirty of those by the beginning of March – stress and misery will do that – and I’m sure I’ve dropped a fair amount since then, but still) and lack of training. But he was encouraging me to make a more regular, disciplined effort to actually exercise, and approves heartily of my efforts to travel more under my own power as a means to that end.

It’s just that, he would rather I not do myself harm by overdoing it in this heat.

But what else am I gonna do? It’s not that it’s going to get any cooler as the summer wears on. And yes, I guess that means I’m nodding towards Greta and the gang after all. But it’s something that we can – and should – live with.

Besides, for all the miles that I’m putting in between home and the ‘office,’ it’s nothing compared to what the others that stuck with Team World Vision are doing as part of their training for the marathon. Erin talked about doing between three and five miles at a time -and I mean running, not walking – depending on the day. The team also made some kind of run downtown Chicago at one point last Saturday, I believe. To be sure, she mentioned having taken her bicycle on that particular journey, but that’s still a long way to go, especially as I understood she was alternating between biking and walking with another member of the team. Now, that’s a commitment.

All of which is isn’t to negate what I’m doing, but rather to downplay it. Sure, I’m doing what I feel I can, but compared to other people, it’s not all that much. And doing it in the hot sun? It shouldn’t be a big deal.

Still, I’m just glad it’s only three miles one way, rather than ten. Otherwise, I really would be in a world of hurt. Or would that be a world of heat?

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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