|Chris speaking at GWI 2014. Photo by Ryan Johnson.|
The week of our snow and ice in Georgia, I gingerly stepped and carefully drove to avoid any ice-related accidents. When most ice and snow had melted and the weather warmed, I decided to go for a run, proudly wearing my sleeveless neon-blue running shirt and shorts in which I look quite good if much too blue. (Looking good enhances my workouts and my running, as with most athletes!)
But before I got out of the guest parking lot of our complex, I fell sprawling on the pavement, catching myself with my hands, scraping them and one elbow and both knees. I wish I could blame slipping on ice or tripping on shoelaces or debris, but the asphalt was dry as a bone and clean as a whistle.
I picked myself up, went back to our unit, scrubbed my wounds to avoid infection, treated them with antibiotic cream, and bandaged the bleeding scrapes and cuts. “Pride goeth before a fall,” the judging Proverb came to me. I realized that wearing my usual winter garb for running—long sleeved shirt, gloves, and long running pants—would have minimized my injuries.
Yet pride is also what prompted me to proceed with my long run—puffy and bruised knees, multiple bandaids, and raw skin notwithstanding—this time wearing my long-sleeved running shirt. Though the fall was humbling, pride is what made me get back up and start again.
As I ran, I thought back on the four days I had spent that week at the Georgia Winter Institute 2014, meeting in a former Confederate weapons factory in Columbus, Georgia, south of Atlanta, where I live. GWI’s mission is stated in one sentence: “The Georgia Winter Institute connects people with and without disabilities to work together to nurture and use our gifts to strengthen community bonds.”
In my closing keynote I told the assembly of a gathering of people living with HIV and AIDS, their families, friends, volunteer and professional caregivers near Detroit. “I have no memory of what I said to them,” I explained, “I absolutely remember what they ‘said’ to me. As we helped them carry all their medical paraphernalia from their cars to their rooms at the retreat center—their IV drip bottles and tubing, their medicines, oxygen tanks, and various pieces of special equipment—all I could think of was how determined they were to participate in this event, to be part of the community. And by contrast, I thought about how many people pass up on going on retreats or building community simply because it’s ‘inconvenient.’”
They had been knocked down, so to speak, but they had gotten back up again. And that’s what I witnessed among those gathered in Columbus. Perhaps their pride is challenged by how the culture, government, medical establishment, and houses of worship are inadequately mindful of their gifts and challenges, whether their own or those they love or serve, but pride is what gets us all back up again.
Other posts related to running mishaps:
BEWARE OF THE GOD! (includes an Olympic running mishap)
Last week’s post also about GWI 2014:
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