Saturday, March 11th was circled on the calendar for months.
The Land Between the Lakes Trail Run in Grand Rivers, Kentucky was to be my first 23km race.
I don’t train for races, but rather I prepare. I make sure the distance can be physically covered, but I’m not out timing lap splits with a stopwatch.
My feet ran a couple hundred miles in the last two months in preparation. Many of those miles on trails at Mammoth Cave since it’s important to run on similar terrain as a race. I practiced running with a water bottle. I shed some lbs. Lacey gifted me new trail shoes for Valentines Day and an orange shirt to match. We booked a hotel room. I was ready.
I needed to be at the starting line around 5:45 am. But instead at that exact time, I found myself hundreds of miles away in the mountains of North Carolina preparing for something else. Instead of carrying a water bottle and making sure my shoes were tied, I sat sipping coffee in Ingles’ Starbucks with a pen and notebook.
Tears replaced sweat.
My Maw unexpectantly passed away four days before.
My family graciously asked if I would speak at her funeral, which was humbling.
Ink spread across the page as I contemplated what the matriarch of the Higgins clan meant to her fifty-six immediate family members and to others. Much could be shared about her 82 years of life. She shaped all of our lives.
But besides her love for her family, there’s one practical example she lived out you should follow. It’s so simple that a two-year-old can sketch it out for you.
It’s a circle.
She lived her life in circles.
Maw’s spot was at the head of her kitchen table. Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory should come to mind. No, she wouldn’t be rude if you sat in her spot. But, I can’t remember anyone ever daring to.
It was the perfect seat. Maw was positioned to see everyone in the room. She could see the doors if grandkids were coming or going. She could reach the phone that hung until recently on the wall if her son or daughters called. She could turn around to see her great grandkids playing in her backyard. When she was alone, her spot allowed her to watch The Biggest Loser or Dancing with the Stars from the small television on the counter.
She had her spot, but then every other seat was open for the taking. She welcomed everyone to her circle. She would offer you something to eat and drink. But, she wanted you in her circle to talk.
It wasn’t only the kitchen table. In warm weather, Maw’s circle moved to a gazebo. When we outgrew one gazebo, she had Paw build a bigger one twenty feet away. Maw understood what happened when loved ones sat in circles—they connect.
With our family and friends too often we sit in lines watching television. Or we sit with our hands up and faces down staring at our phones. We need to be connected to one another in circles.
This is why life groups are so vital to the growth of your spiritual walk. Too many of us only sit in pews looking up at a pastor. Or besides the hour and a half in church, you hopefully spend time one-on-one with God through prayer and reading the Bible. But an essential way to grow in your faith is to be connected to other believers in circles.
Christian, be like my Maw—be a person who sits in circles.