Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Sisters' First Running Shoes

I just finished reading Pete Larson's post and video expo on different running shoes and footstrike:  Relationship Between Running Footstrike and Footwear: From Stability Shoes to Barefoot.  His incredibly interesting study of running shoes is going to be something I follow with interest.  However, while reading his post I couldn't help being reminded of Sister Maximilian's first running shoes.

It all started when Sister came to visit the convent before entering and asked if she could bring her Birkies with her when she came.  Her Birkies did come with her:  she was allowed to wear them in her room!  That all changed a few years later when Sister finished her Novitiate and came to work at St. Charles Children's Home.  Her new Superior was happy to allow her to wear Birkies in public, as long as they were the London style with the closed toe.  From that day forward, Sister always wore her London Birkenstocks.

Fast forward a few more years, to the summer when Sister Maximilian was walking every day with Rose on woodland trails.  By the end of the summer, their daily walks had turned into daily runs.  Rose was wearing sneakers.  Sister was wearing her London Birkenstocks.  I happened to be 300 miles away that summer at our Motherhouse preparing for final vows.  Since preparation for vows was a summer-long intensive time of prayer and study, I had no contact with Sister during that summer.  Finally at the end of the summer she came to the Motherhouse for the retreat.  We were not allowed to talk because it was the retreat, but I noticed her shoes right away.  I had never known Sister Maximlian to allow her Birkies to become so dilapidated!  They were all scratched and smashed.  No shoe polish would have helped those poor shoes.  I wondered what on earth had been going on when I was away.

The day the retreat ended I learned that the shoes--with Sister Maximilian in them--had been running on trails in the woods all summer.  So, the Birkies were Sister's first running shoes.  Later that fall we learned about real running shoes, and those poor Birkies never had to endure the trail again.

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