Most people, either because of the previous night’s revelry or sheer laziness, see the sunlight at 12noon on December 25. I decided that this year, I would greet it at 6am, with a Run.
I forced myself out of bed. I wondered whether it was because of my desire to prepare for an upcoming fun run, health consciousness or just madness. Anyhow, I reached Greenhills after around 10 minutes of running half-awake. The Greenhills Gladiators were cut down to half their number, probably rewarding themselves with more sleep for at least once this year.
Since I was carrying out the Christmas madness anyway, I also decided to make myself useful. I pondered in between huffs and puffs if there was an intersection between running and Christmas. I’m glad that perhaps there is.
“Emmanuel” means “God is with us.” Christmas sermons have hinged their messages on this, and Christmas songs have also made a lot of money on it. This is because in a very real way, through the birth of Christ, God is WITH us. Totally, completely, to the point that he became one of us (cue that other famous song).
By doing this, he upgraded humanity. He showed how the factory model should perform. Throw the song “Sapagkat kami’y tao lamang” out of your playlist. “Tao” became dignified, because the Creator became himself became one. He showed us that “God” was not some abstract concept, but as tangible as the goosebumps on your skin, as the sweat dripping on your forehead, as the stink that comes from your body odors.
Jesus said that he came that we may “have life and have it more fully.” Many might argue that what Jesus meant was that he would give them spiritual life, and that would be the “fullness” he was talking about. Sure, but to say that Jesus came for the Spirit alone would be antithesis to the Jesus who definitely cared about the physical (he healed, even on the Sabbath, he fed thousands,) and the emotional(he wept with those who grieved). He cared about the human who was here, encased in flesh. Not some floating poltergeist. He wanted the Kingdom to happen “here on earth as in heaven.” That is why the Human body is special. God himself became human. He had a heart. He had lungs. He had eyelids. He had feet. He had scabs. He had dandruff. He had a penis. He was circumcised. The divine was housed in the daily-ness of the human body.
In some way, running (or any physical sport for that matter) reintroduces you to your humanity. What was that muscle that hurt? Was that part of me? I had a bone there? What do you mean the heart does that? Is that my blood on the pavement?
Running makes you meet your physicality. Running, is where desire and limits meet. This tension reminds us that we are divine beings physically encased. And that – is cosmically beautiful.
The King of Heaven came to earth to be US. To tell us that we are worth it. To tell us that our humanity is not an excuse. Rather, it is a way for the Divine to make itself more believable to those who have long thrown it into the rubbish. Like running, Christmas thus reminds us that there is more to the physical side of the human being. That we are better than our worse selves – yes, even the self that can’t get up at 6 in the morning on Christmas Day.