Friday, March 10, 2017

Running the Chicago Marathon, October, 1978



After reading an article by Jane Bernstein entitled, “Still Running” in The Sun, February, 2017, I was inspired to write for our Writing Class about training for the Chicago Marathon in 1978.

Still Walking

I started to run for the first time as an adult in 1977, when I was thirty-six years old.

In 1963, I graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in English.  It was also the end of a rather successful high school and college career as a football player and a track runner, running the high and low hurdles, and the s440 yard dash.

In the intervening fourteen years, I did not run a step.

Then, in the fall of 1976, I became an Assistant Professor of Education at Kalamazoo College, returning to my beloved alma mater.

My former football coach, Rolla Anderson, was Athletic Director, and he asked me if I would coach the Men and women’s Cross Country teams.  I said “No,” for one thing, because I had never even seen a Cross Country Meet.  And Rolla kept after me.  Finally, he said, “Ray, why don’t you be Ed Baker’s Assistant in coaching t rack next spring.  I said, “Yes,” and that did it.  

When I started coaching, I had forgotten how much I knew about the fundamentals of track, and I loved working with the guys, and I went to Rolla and said, “Yes.”

Furthermore, when I started coaching  track, I was 30 pounds overweight, and so I was determined to start running again.  I went to the t rack, determined to run a mile, and I was totally winded after a quarter.  But I kept at it.

Then, In January of 1978, I was reading a “Runner’s World” magazine and came across an article saying, select a marathon 6 months away, and begin training for it in this manner.
Now, I was getting serious.  I selected the Chicago Marathon in October.
I hit the streets, running 5 miles a week, then later on, 10, and months later 15 miles per week.  

In late summer, I was running s40 miles a week.

In August of 1978, my Cross Country guys were beginning training for the season, and sometimes when they hit the streets for a six-mile run, they would ask me to go along, kindly running the first two miles at eight-minute pace with me, then they would take off at their six-minute pace.
My goal for Chicago was to run 8-minute pace, so that I would run the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and qualify for Boston.

On the day of the Marathon, it was 89 degrees F, and very humid.  Along the way times were given at 5, 10, 15 miles, and so forth.  Water was available every 2 ½ miles.

This was 39 years ago, and drinking water was not emphasized as it is now, and I made a very poor decision:  I won’t stop to grab water because it will slow me down.  Duh. 

At 5 miles, I was right on the mark:  40 minutes; at 10, 1 hour, 20 minutes; at 15, 2 hours; at 20, I will never forget it, 2:41.19, only 79 seconds off pace at 20 miles!!!

Then, at 25 miles, I hit the wall.  Suddenly, I had difficulty taking the next step, I had absolutely no strength, and I had 1.2 miles to go.  I said to myself, “Look, you fucker, you are going to finish if you have to crawl.”
I did finish at 3:36, 6 minutes off pace.

I never ran another marathon, and I jogged on and off for the next several years.

And, now, I am happy to walk 30 or 40 minutes a day with Christine.



Friday, January 13, 2017

How Sarah Young was “Graciously Guided” to write, “Jesus Calling.”




Soon after posting a Blog entitled, “We Are  Now, and We  Always Have Been,  Graciously Guided,” (1/7/2017)I was guided to read Sarah Young’s Introduction to her book, “Jesus Calling.”  I was fascinated by how she was “graciously guided” all along the way to writing her book.

These are the “signposts” that led her along the way, step by step.  I have simply excerpted these passages that pointed the way for her.

I firsts experienced the peace of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.  I was living and studying at a Christian community in a tiny Alpine village in France.

A few months earlier my brother had asked me to read Francis Schaeffer’s, “Escape from Reason.”  Schaeffer’s teaching drew me to this pristine place.

One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains.  Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me.  I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.”

The following year, back in the United States, I had another encounter with the Presence of Jesus.  Alone in my room, I felt waves of desolation wash over me.  So I began walking the streets of Atlanta aimlessly.  I glanced at some books in an outdoor stall and was drawn to “Beyond Ourselves” by Catherine Marshall.  That night as I read the book, I no longer felt alone.  That night as I read the book, I felt an overwhelming Presence of peace and love come over me.  I knew that Jesus was with me.

During the next sixteen years I lived what many people might consider an exemplary Christian life. 
I was ready to begin a new spiritual quest.  It started with delving into a devotional book, “The Secret of the Abiding Presence” by Andrew Murray.

My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee.  As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. 
During that same year, I began reading “God Calling,” a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.”  These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him.

The following year I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God.  I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.  Soon, messages began to flow more freely, and I bought a special notebook to record these words. 

I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him.  The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.  During the years that I have been listening to God with pen in hand, I have found themes of His Peace becoming more prominent in my writing.  

I have included Scripture references after each daily reading.  As I listened to God, Bible verses or fragments of verses often come to mind. I have interwoven these into my messages.  

These messages are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place.  Remember that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.  May He bless you with His Presence and Peace in ever-increasing measure.


Friday, January 06, 2017

We Are Now, and We Always Have Been, Graciously Guided.



When I look back at my life, I realize that I have been guided all along; I did not see the guidance along the way, I saw it only in retrospect.
from A Course in Miracles:
What could you not accept, if you but knew
that everything that happens, all events,
past, present and to come, are gently planned
by One Whose only purpose is your good?
(Lesson 135.18)

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast
illusion in which figures come and go
as if by magic. Yet there is a plan
behind appearances that does not change.
The script is written. When experience
will come to end your doubting has been set.
For we but see the journey from the point
at which it ended, looking back on it.
(Lesson 158.4)
And here is a passage from Jane Gage Govoni’s, “Faith, Love, and Hypnosis: An Inspirational Memoir of the Dance Between Stroke and Healing.
It is very amazing when we look back at the long road of our life and see all the signposts that we have been given but didn’t understand at the time.  I received a signpost when I was 12.  Each of us had a Bible verse chosen for us, and mine was Isaiah 40:29-31:
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.



30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:



31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.




You can imagine my surprise when the same verse was chosen for me at my high school graduation four years later.  Maybe  Soren Kierkegaard  said it best when he wrote, “We understand our lives backwards but we must live them forwards.”  




I was going to need the comfort of the words I was forced to learn 30 years before the stroke. (pp. 73,74)
And now, I am going to look back on my life to demonstrate how I was graciously guided.  I am going to focus in on only four incidents,  “signposts,” in respect to my education and my profession.
ONE
When I was a senior in high school in Three Rivers, MI, I began receiving recruiting letters from colleges and universities, inviting me to visit their campuses and talk with coaches about playing football and running track.
No one in my family had ever gone to college, and I was not receiving any guidance.  One day in the middle of the summer, an Admissions Counselor from Kalamazoo College, appeared at my door and said, “Look, we have offered you a most significant scholarship; so significant that we offer only two of them each year.  Now, are you going to take it, or not?”
I said, “OK, and what do I have to do next?”
He said, “I need a $50.00 deposit.”
I said, “Let’s walk to where my Dad is working at Reen’s Super Market.”
When we arrived, I asked my Dad for the money, and he said, “I don’t have it; I’ll borrow it from Reen.”
And, then, it was a done deal.
(Incidentally, tuition and room and board in those days at K was $1500.00, yearly, and the Chet Barnard Scholarship was for $1000.00.  Somehow my parents managed to come up with the rest for four years; my father was a butcher, and my mother worked as a secretary at the Continental Can Company in Three Rivers.)
TWO
After a wonderful four years at K, playing football, running track, becoming an English Major, and winning a Light Scholarship to go on foreign study to France for a summer, at the University of Caan in Normandy, I found myself in the spring, again, wondering what I was going to do next.
(Also, I was being directed early on towards the light because the Kalamazoo College motto is, “LuxEsto,” meaning, “Let there be light.”)

One day, while walking across the Quad, an English Professor, Larry Barrett, walked by me and said, “Oh, I just received a brochure from The University of Chicago; the University is offering a Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT) you might be interested in.  Go grab the brochure.”
Well, l applied, received a generous scholarship, and began the two-year program in the fall of 1963.
I had never thought much about teaching, and after practice teaching in the University Lab School, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.
I also practice taught for a semester in a Chicago public school, and I wrote a Master’s Thesis, a critical essay on “The Great Gatsby,” and a three-week lesson plan.
THREE
Once again, in the spring of my final year, I found myself wondering what to do next.  I filled out forms at the University’s Career Center, and one day, I had an appointment set for a meeting with a high school Principal from San Francisco.  I was simply looking for a job, not thinking about any particular location. 
I received a call that he canceled, and a Principal could interview me from Westport, Ct.  I met with Ken Brummel, and we had a very exciting, inspiring interview.  At the end, he said, “Look, I will fly you out to Westport, and you can stay with me and my family, and tour the Bedford Junior High School.”  Well, I flew there, was blown away by the strength of the school system, the teachers and students, and returned to Chicago with a contract that simply needed to be signed and returned; and I promptly sent it  to Ken.


FOUR
That turned out to be a very exciting four years; my two wonderful roommates, also first-year English Teachers, were Don Schuman from   Princeton, and Ed Elenausky from Johns Hopkins.
My English Department Chairperson, Annette Silverstone, was very encouraging.  One time, during my first fall teaching, I told her of some cool idea I had about making a connection between Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” and Homer’s “Odyssey,” and she said, “Try anything once.”
During the spring of my fourth year, I received a call from Janet Emig, my Supervisor during my MAT Program at the University of Chicago, who said, “Listen, Ray, we are beginning a Doctoral Program in training teachers how to teach, and I thought of you.”  She went on to say that she often used my Master’s Thesis as an example to show other students of how it could be done.

In the fall of 1969, I entered the doctoral program, receiving my doctorate four years later, yes, in the spring.
from A Course in Miracles:
Whatever your appointed way may be,
it was selected by the Voice for God.
His is the only way to find the peace
that God has given us. It is His way
that everyone must travel in the end,
because it is this ending God Himself
appointed. In the dream of time it seems
 to be far off. And yet, in truth, it is
already here; already serving us
as gracious guidance in the way to go.
(Final Lessons)


And, here is a Haiku:

Graciously guided
we see it looking backwards
Now, trusting next step






Saturday, October 08, 2016

Jesus and Trump and the Christ and Namaste




What follows is 1) an article that appeared in USA Today by  Tom Krattenmaker, a member of USA  TODAY’s Board of Contributors, and communications director at Yale Divinity School)m 2) my e-mail response to him, and  3) his e-mail response to me.


Friday, 26 August 2016

What Jesus would do:
Love Donald Trump
Tom Krattemaker

“Love your enemies,” Jesus said.

But does the daunting concept really apply to our hostile politics today? Can Democrats love conservatives? Is it possible for Hillary Clinton supporters to — gasp — love Donald Trump? Can Trump be loved even by Republicans who are convinced he is destroying their party?
Yes, actually.

As a staff member at Yale Divinity School and as a secular person who has been unpacking the central teachings of Jesus for an upcoming book, I have come to see ways in which this principle can be applied today. Even to the inveterate commandment-breaker and bad-behavior-modeler Donald Trump.

It helps if we get clear about the meaning of “love” in the biblical context. John Collins, a prolific Yale scholar who teaches a popular class on biblical values and their application to public issues today, reminds me that the word conveys something quite different from what comes to mind for most of us.
This biblical love, Collins points out, is not a surge of affection or a romantic attraction to someone (feelings, not incidentally, that can change and fade). Rather, it can be thought of as a commitment to and regard for our fellow human beings — even those not like us and not on our side, politically or culturally speaking — and refusing to reduce them to their worst ideas and behavior.

Does “loving” one’s political rivals mean ceding elections to them, or abandoning our own principles and policies to push theirs instead? Of course not. If we believe Trump’s values and politics would harm the country and the people who populate it, love compels us to resist his election and the advancement of what he stands for.
What does this love of enemy imply? I find it’s easier to answer that with respect to Trump supporters than Trump himself. This is not to endorse the bigotry frequently on display at his rallies, or the “lock her up!” vitriol and threats of violence against Clinton. There is no place for these. But an empathetic look at Trump supporters surfaces the frustration and bewilderment of a subset of the country that has felt abandoned by rapid economic and social upheaval and politics as usual.

To love them is to tease out what might be legitimate about their grievances and to want them to have decent, dignified lives. It means relating to them in a way conducive to a change of heart whereby that heart might eventually change — might store more than resentment against immigrants, minorities and “politically correct” liberals.

What of Trump himself? Bible scholars will tell you that an important aspect of Jesus-style love is wanting the best for others, even those you label “enemy.” In Collins’ view, this suggests wanting for Trump a newfound ability to resist firing off mean-spirited tweets and ill-conceived ideas that malign other people and reveal his own lack of knowledge and character.

Loving Trump also implies wanting the best for him personally even as we thwart his political desires. For a narcissistic power seeker, winning the presidential election would only feed his worst tendencies. His massive and problematic ego — “I alone can fix it,” as he boasts when discussing the country’s problems—would likely soar to destructive new heights were he to occupy the most powerful office in the land.

Better for Trump’s character — better for his soul, if you will — that he experience and accept a very public loss in this biggest contest of his life and spend his remaining years devoting himself to ends more edifying than inflating his superiority and degrading his rivals.

Loving Trump means resisting any urge to clamor for his imprisonment or execution, as some of his supporters have demanded for Clinton. No need for any symbolic walk of shame like that endured by Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. (We know what that led to: She sought and got revenge on a massively destructive scale.)
The funny thing about loving our political enemies is that the minute we change our regard for them, they morph before our eyes. They remain our political opponents, but they are no longer our enemies — and no longer deserving of the treatment the word implies.
They become, instead, human, and deserving of all that implies. Even if their name is Donald Trump.


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Saturday, 27 August 2016


Der Tom, 

I am so grateful for your article, “What Jesus would do:  Love Donald Trump.”  Several million readers will be reminded that Jesus taught us to love our neighbor.

Following your example, I am going to express to you what loving your neighbor means to me.

First, when I think of Jesus, what comes to mind is His resurrection, not his crucifixion.  His resurrection demonstrates His Divinity, his eternal Spirit.
While He was waking on this earth, He underwent a transformation, an illumination, so that he experienced his eternal Spirit, and his resurrection demonstrated it to the world.

When He taught, love thy neighbor as thy Self, He meant to recognize in your neighbor the eternal Spirit.  When you experience your Self, you can see this Self, this Spirit, in your brother.  You are seeing your brother with the eyes of Christ.

An example of this is greeting your brother, saying, “Namaste,” the Christ in me greets the Christ in you.

Therefore, “Namaste, Donald Trump.”

Obviously, in the past two thousand years, there has been ample evidence that Jesus is Spirt; Jesus is present with us in every moment.
Here is my favorite example.  In October of 1965, He said to Helen Schucman, a Psychology Professor at Columbia, “This is A Course in Miracles, please take notes,” and she dutifully did for seven years, and A Course in Miracles was published in 1975.  It consists of a Text with 31 Chapters, a Workbook for Students, consisting of 365 Lessons, one for each day of the year, and a Manual for Teachers.

This Course provides an opportunity to transform our minds, so that we can fulfill our only function of being on this earth, coming into awareness that we are Spirit.

Since we are Spirit, we are the Sons of God, we are as He created us.  The Course constantly teaches us this holy truth.
My wife, Christine, and I begin again with Lesson 1 on January 1 of each year.

For example, today’s Lesson is 240, Fear is not justified in any form.

Here is a passage from the Lesson:

We are the Sons of God. There is no fear in us,
for we are each a part of Love Itself.
How foolish are our fears! Would You allow
Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today
to recognize Your Son, and set him free.
Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we
may understand his holiness, and feel
the love for him which is Your Own as well.


When we recognize God’s Son in our neighbor, we set him free.

Sincerely,

Ray Comeau, Ph.D.


Here is a little bit about myself.  I received my BA from Kalamazoo College in 1963, my MA from the University of Chicago in 1965, and my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1973.

I have written four books:

1.  Through a Mirror, Brightly:  Reflections of a Mind Illuminated Trough A Course in Miracles, 2000.

2.  There Must Be Another Way, 2008.

3.  100 Haiku:  Inspired by the Mind Training of A Course in Miracles, 2015.

4.  100 Haiku:  Book Two, 2016.

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Dear Ray,

Wow, what a great message. Thank you so much for getting in touch and sharing this wisdom with me.

I'm familiar with the Course in Miracles! Can't say I have done it or know much about it, but it sounds like a transformative set of teachings.

Thanks again for being in touch. All the best to you,

Tom

P.S. Four books, eh? Hats off to you. Books are a lot of work! My third is coming out in just over a month.