And as life would have it, I had plenty of opportunity to think about renewal this past week. I suppose it started with practical matters. I received notices, both in the mail and by email that our car registrations are up for renewal. In this case, renewal is a simple matter of paying money. We don’t have to do any deep thinking about whether we still believe in this, whether it brings happiness or whether we need to tweak it. The bottom line is: if we want to drive, we need to send money and renew it.
Other examples of renewal were more complex. On Monday, I flipped on the television and watched in horror as the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, France, burned. Tears sprang to my eyes as the steeple, unable to remain upright due to so much structural damage, toppled. The devastation seemed even more heartbreaking given the fire occurred during the most holy week of the Christian faith. Beyond the use of the church for worship, for close to 850 years this incredible architectural masterpiece has hosted millions of tourists and guests; some coming to partake in a service, others lured inside to witness the beautiful stained glass, stone carvings and tapestries, some to listen to music played on The Great Organ, and some to simply feel the sheer magnificence of the ancient building.
I have never been to Notre Dame cathedral, and yet I could imagine what must be going through the minds of those who see it daily, and who have assumed it will always stand as a familiar landmark in their home country. I imagine conversations being had around the topic of renewal. Parisians and all French, have a decision to make about renewal. This is not as simple as my car registration. In this case, a decision needs to be taken about whether this country, and this city, declare they believe Notre Dame Cathedral is something worthy of them renewing their commitment to. This building, so revered and at the same time so taken for granted because of its longevity and steadfastness, needs to be chosen once again. Just as almost nine centuries ago, a group of people who had a vision for its greatness committed to its plan and construction, so now will a different group of people need to decide whether they will renew their commitment to this piece of their country. By all reports, the emotional decision was made before the final embers were doused. So too it seems, was the financial decision, with money pouring in before daybreak on Tuesday. A promise for the renewal of Notre Dame has been made.
The reason I had turned on the television during the day on Monday was not to catch the news, but to watch the Boston Marathon. It’s my once-a-year treat to myself. I love this race. This year I was especially excited because our friend, Brenda, was running in it. I wanted to watch in the off chance I would see her and her bright green socks fly by.
I love to hear the commentators give the background of some of the elite runners. I love to hear the stories about the history of this old marathon. I love to remember being there. I love to be inspired. I love to think about renewal. My renewal. This, for me, is more complicated that the renewal of our vehicle registration. It is similar to, but not exactly the same as the commitment of the French to renew their beautiful church. My personal renewal does not come down to money or to deciding whether I can put the broken parts of my body back together. For me, this is deciding whether I can renew a love I have deep inside me.
I love to run.
It is that simple, and that complicated. Running gives to me something that nothing else in this world gives me. Not biking, not hiking, not yoga and not even dancing. Not facilitating workshops, not baking, not caring for others, not teaching and not sightseeing. Running is the thing that makes me feel most like myself.
There are more than a dozen very sensible reasons I should not be running. And yet….
Each of us has at least one of these yearnings deep inside ourselves. Each of us knows what it feels like to bury that yearning, even to ignore it and pretend it does not exist. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we have outgrown it. Sometimes we pretend that we’ll get back to it someday. Sometimes we think someone else will give us the space to pursue it. Sometimes we forget how close and how far we can be from a simple renewal. Sometimes we hear a whisper.
I suppose I always assumed I would someday get to Paris and see Notre Dame. Now, I can only imagine that it may not be completely repaired in my lifetime. I suppose I also always assumed I’d be running again. This year, I have of course been completely sidelined from this for good reason. Even I know it makes no sense to run on broken bones. This week the coinciding of the Boston Marathon and the fire at Notre Dame, felt like whispers, helping me realize it’s time for me to do some personal renewal.
I cannot assume running will always be available for me. At the same time, I’m not yet ready to assume it is over for me. And so, I am renewing my dream to be a runner. I don’t know yet what exactly it will look like. I’m guessing it will never again be six days per week, with high mileage. I do know that on Monday afternoon, after Brenda crossed the finish line, and I was watching the ‘back of the packers’ finishing the Boston Marathon, I went downstairs and got on the treadmill. I walked for five minutes. Then I ran 30 seconds.
I was renewed.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What is whispering for my renewal?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is also the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth and allow her to help you find renewal in your business and life.