I recently became part of a Ragnar Race Team. It is approximately 200 miles of course divided between 12 runners and completed over two days and one night. What makes this 100% outrageous is that first and foremost, I am NOT a runner- never have been, I’m not sure I ever really will be. For some reason, the Ragnar race has always intrigued me, so when an opportunity to be a driver for a group of women in my church became available, I quickly jumped on board. I KNEW I could drive and cheer and, if needed, run a mile or two to help a struggling teammate.
And then, with less than 4 weeks to race day, a member of the team got injured and I became runner #4! Even with the shortest course legs possible, I was still well outside my running abilities. In addition to my running inexperience, I was on the mend from a sinus infection, ear infection, and pneumonia! I was no where near race ready. Well, ready or not, the race was fast approaching, so I hitched up my track shorts, tied up my laces, and went for a WALK every day- promising that I would cover the miles, but maybe at the turtles pace!
We had a beautiful spring day in North Texas yesterday- so beautiful that I committed to my longest training day to date- actually, I think it was my longest EVER in my history of ever! My hubs gave me a route that would be visually stimulating and would cover the distance that I wanted to go for the day. The route would wind through neighborhoods, but he assured me that they were neighborhoods I knew, so I would be okay. I think what he didn’t realize is that I grew up in Utah, a state where the communities are all built on a grid & number system. If you can count, then you can self-orient.
Well, folks, Texas neighborhoods (at least the one’s where I live) ain’t built on a grid! So I got a little turned around and a little disoriented. I found myself in an alley, with little more than a clue of where I was. I knew what neighborhood I was in, but I wasn’t sure which way was north or south- so I didn’t know which way was home! I was already into the run/walk more than I’d ever gone- so adding a mile or two for lost direction didn’t appeal to my mind at all! In dramatic fashion, I envisioned myself dehydrating in the back alley of Panther Creek-
As I was contemplating my early demise, and my sad final story- I saw someone running towards me with one arm waving enthusiastically in my direction. As my aging vision locked on her face, I recognized her as a young girl from church. I didn’t know her well, but I knew who she was! She was smiling and waving at me as she was running around the track at the local middle school- Instantly, I KNEW where I was and HOW I could get back home. Truth be told, I don’t think I have ever shared more than a wave and a smile with this young girl. In many ways, I did not have any reason to be recognizable to her and in MANY ways she could have convinced herself that I wouldn’t know who SHE was and that her wave and smile would be likely unappreciated!
Our interaction was only smiles and waves- her’s because she recognized me and mine because I RECOGNIZED the impact of her simple actions. There were no words that passed, no physical contact made. But at the right time and in the right moment, one person was in the right place to show another home.
Though it seems trivial, and maybe even a little over-dramatized, I couldn’t help going home and penning her a Thank You-
Thank you, I wrote, for the smile you share, for the excitement in your wave of ‘hello’
Thank you, I wrote, for acting with your heart and lighting the way
Thank you, I wrote, for just being you
Thank you, I wrote, for brightening my day
Truth be told, I wasn’t that far from home. As a matter of fact, I was only a jump, skip, and a beat from my front door-
Feeling lost doesn’t always mean we are far from home. Many of us feel lost in our own neighborhoods, in our own schools, and even while sitting alone in our own rooms. No, we don’t have to be far from home to feel a little lost and confused. We don’t have to be far from home to feel the vulnerability of being outside of our comfort zone.
But one thing is sure- no matter how lost or alone we might feel, sometimes a simple smile and a wave are the simple actions that can point us back home.
I hope this sweet girl never loses her smile-
I hope she never loses her enthusiastic wave-
And if she ever wonders if her wave and her smile matter,
I hope she remembers the day that she pointed me home,
And can honestly say- even the most simple acts matter to me!