Wednesday, December 31, 2014

No matter... hard the day starts--tight and sore muscles, depressed, melancholy, work up to your ears, crying, world is out of coffee...

Go for a Run
You will feel better

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Window

The Window
Confucius said many, many years ago: “Look at this window: it is nothing but a hole in the wall, but because of it the whole room is full of light. Being full of light it becomes an influence by which others are securely transformed.” This window of which he speaks is, for me, silence—the true silence that allows God to speak.

from Snow Falling on Snow by Robert Wicks

Sunday, November 30, 2014

This might sound terrible, but give it a generous read

But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment. Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. - 2 Peter 3:10 - 11

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reflecting with the Prodigal Son

Men, Boys? Have you ever wanted to pick up and simply leave your family? Don't come unglued with anxiety. This is not a new sentiment. Just don't leave. Or if you already did, come back.

Monday, November 3, 2014

War is Hell

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Running Specialty--State of the Union

An interesting and mostly objective take on the running business. I am still convinced customers will follow the best service and experience. They want their retail/consumer experience to align with their training/recreational goals.

Whoever merges and provides a holistic experience best will survive the longest.

Could be RSG, could be Fleet Feet Sports, could be Mom-and-Pop, could even be Dick's or Shoe Carnival. I am convinced it will have a face to face interactive component for at least another quarter century.

Who wants it the most?

Oh yeah, it's about a lot more than shoes.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

and...A River Runs Through It

I love this movie and book, inspired and written by Norman Maclean. I remain ever fond of the quote below:

Until now, I had never really thought of this quote in light of Revelation 22:1-2. Here is the King James version of the Revelation text, which would have likely been the working text for Maclean and is one of mine for today:

And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Quite a few images come to mind at this juncture from Maclean within the context of scripture. We have imagination around creation and those first words from Genesis, some of the last words in Revelation (above), and the flood words from Genesis' sixth chapter.

Why has this merger never occurred to me? I have preached this quote. I have watched the movie more than ten times over. Here's my trouble up to now: I was mostly thinking of fishermen, disciples, and images such as Matthew 4:19 -- And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Also from Maclean's pen:
In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.

You may appreciate from the weight of this fishing motif how Maclean's visions previously had me thinking solely of the works of man, inspired by God, but nonetheless the works of man. You would not have to know me long to learn that the intersection of ordained ministry and some other activity, fishing in this context, is the basis of my own theology and practice. But it is for that reason, why I had been closed off to a broader brush stroke offered here by the poet, Norman Maclean. 

Here we can delve beyond the works of man, those who choose to follow and drop nets and become disciples bearing the fruits and blessings that spring forth from such choices. We are into creation, redemption, and big big waters.

I think of a river that runs through a giant tree.

When the great Flood came to pass
is it possible that Noah scanned from atop the waters 
the splitting of a giant tree, 
the tree of life,
and it grew closer and closer
seemingly sucking his craft toward it in a great wave 
yet Noah and his crew, 
expert surfers on this epic tide like none before, 
saw the tree(s) at a frightening pace as they screamed headlong through the fissure, 
wondering if they would hit either or both sides of the tree with their prostrate tree, the floating wooden craft he and his had built and now clung to for life?
Did they continue on their journey downstream, 
far away from the place where the river split the giant tree, 
only to one day return,
descendants, generations later 
now from the eyes of John of Patmos, 
they cruised again down the river observing the tree on both sides now?
Even more forceful as all things now merged.

Searching for images of rivers that have split trees leaves this author dissatisfied. Here is the best of what I can find in order to keep the imagination flowing, a split California Redwood, but it is far from all I want.

We often think of Noah's Flood as water coming up solely from below, from the ground, rising up, but maybe it came in all ways imaginable and unimaginable -- Tsunami's and Class VxV rapids. That'a a Class 25 rapid as multiplication tells us, which is bigger than my imagination. For those who can locate in their minds a basic washing machine rapid known as a Class V, well a class VxV is beyond human imagination in terms of destruction and transformation. Basically, it's a Tree Splitter, A Tree of Life Splitter.

I have left out hokey Sunday School renditions of Revelation 22, for they typically do not lift up my imagination. I don't want to think of a gentle babbling brook that is divided by a tree. It's not just about what I want, but think of the rest of the book of Revelation. Four Horseman and Seven Heads invite us to imagine a Class 25 Tsunami here as we draw near to the end.

I hope some artist will draw this scene, maybe in a tradition such as Transcendentalism, but we need Super Transcendentalism. A rapid with a black hole piercing through it at the speed of sound splitting the largest tree the world has ever seen.

Think of MacLean's language, all things merge into one... 

That's a lot of things,
All Things
Certainly, all things
a lot of water
And a big ole' tree

I leave you with a ruptured imagination.

Class VI rapid, barely navigable, just scratches the surface of what we are after.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 START START:

Eno River Fun

Eno River Rock Hopping 10/5/14:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Daily Leader

Check out @bryanbrander's Tweet:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

from 5th Stanza of "Intimations of Immortality"

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had else where its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily from the East
Must travel, still is nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid,
Is on his way attended.

Genius from William Wordsworth, offered most recently in David Whyte's "The Three Marriages"

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Injuries Getting You Down

This picture features a dejected runner between mile 24 and 25 during the Boston Marathon on Patriot's Day only five months ago. I know the spot because I can make out the CITGO sign in the distance which means you are close to home.

The picture does not indicate that this runner felt close to home.

As the story goes, this young man, Dennis, had a strained hamstring and from what I can tell walked off the course without a finishing time.

This morning he broke the world record in the Marathon running under two hours and three minutes for the first time in history.

If you are injured, do not give up. Great successes may be just over the next hilltop, no further than the CITGO sign off in the distance.

I came upon this hill and this sign about 30 months ago, also dejected, and have not wanted to touch the marathon since. Perhaps I could be more tenacious. Dennis, you give me hope.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jager sets American record - in the 3,000 Meter Steeple and Reminds of Return to Eden

I am spending the day thinking of how great it is that we all return to Eden. It is a difficult return, tears drying out, and all the nations being reconciled to one another. It has been fraught with suffering these last 2,000 years, but someday the suffering will pass away.

I love seeing great Track & Field news to remind me of the return to Eden. Runners continue to amaze me with their achievements. This time it was in the 3,000 Meter Steeplechase. There is Evan Jager setting a new American record (8:04) in the Steeplechase and Jairus Birech breaks eight minutes for the first time all season by any runner. Somehow the fast running, hurdling, and wet shoes of steeplechase harriers reminds me that we will not suffer this life forever.

The Apoclaypse or Revelation, even sometimes known as Revelations, (but making it plural is false, but we always let it go, because it reminds us of some rural church we love), anyway, Revelation is a series of downers at times--Whore and the Beast, Fall of Babylon, Dragons, Bowls of God's Wrath, Dead Exiled for 1,000 years, 666. There is a lot of tough stuff in there. I avoided the entire book for about 15 years of my life. Seemed like it would only give me nightmares.

Then at the end, it speaks of a crystal clear river of life, no more tears, no more pain, leaves that symbolize healing, a curse lifted, and finally know more night as the path in the darkness will be illuminated by God's light.

You know that Birech and Jager suffered miserably all summer to get in shape for such great races. Tired recovery runs. Grueling speed workouts. Bumping some barriers that could have led to broken bones, even career ending injuries. And then in early September 2014 it all paid off and they raced fluidly, beautifully, and crossed the line with excellent results.

In a manner of speaking, they returned to Eden, back to the Garden and the Tree of Life where life is all balm. Are you going there? Are you willing to suffer to get there? Do you trust that the suffering now will be worth the peace then? When you see glimmers of the peace now, do you tell others about it?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Entering An Appropriate Conversation--Church Imaginings

My mind is all a flutter.

I want to talk about Ferguson, Missouri and Mike Brown and Darren Wilson but any electronic conversation seems petty and misunderstood in the wake of what has happened. I spoke on it at worship yesterday and that will have to suffice. If I have anything hopeful to say or offer, it’s a video of a heavenly banquet. I strongly recommend that you watch the whole movie, Places in the Heart, but this video clip is the hook. I have posted this clip before in other contexts and it might be a starting place for communities to imagine a non-hateful response to violence. This is all communities. No one gets off the hook.

I want to talk about Robin Williams. I am so sorry for any death, suffering, addiction and depression. Just when we think we have survived into our 60's and we are going to make it, we don’t. But none of us are going to make it, or better, all of us are going to make it. Don’t sensationalize or romanticize suffering. Just let this one sit and don’t say anything mean. People have died this week and you want to watch your words.

I want to talk and will talk (and write) about the future of church imagination around the world. Reading Viaduct Park followed us on Twitter this morning and it gave me all new hope for what the church can look like in a building-less imagination.  Take a look at this article on the re-configuring of 10 elevated parks around the world. In typical fashion we might imagine the end of these parks as places for exercise and homes for new vegetation, maybe even some new art. I am for all of those things. I like sweating, beautiful sculptures and the fine smell of blooming daffodils. In fact all of those things are part of what I would call the "end" for all of these new parks/trails. These re-constituted parks are long bodies of land that are God’s unfolding kingdom—the church. We can commission Christians and ordain pastors to gather at all of these spaces. With intention we can ask all of these cultivating Christian communities to make friends with all who use these spaces.

Right now I am imagining the commissioning of art work, maybe a great sculpture or some intentional graffiti/art work along the American Tobacco Trail in Durham. I want this art in the most “dangerous” places so that we could start walking and running tours to come out and see these great monuments. We need to go out into the streets and invite the people to come see what is along the trail. Our response to danger and threat cannot just be more emergency phone booths and patrolling. That's not a buy-in from the community or for the community though I am thankful for these additions. 

What is our God doing in dangerous places? Erecting monuments. It does not have to be a cross or a statue of Mother Mary. I am not trying to corner the market on beauty on behalf of churchy symbols. What about a statue honoring Blind Boy Fuller at mile two on the ATT? Not just a plaque, but I want to see him strumming the banjo like the picture in the new train station. How fitting that where actual trains really run, his image could take up space along an old abandoned railway. I would love to see a giant marble version of Thelonius Monk banging away on the keys with enough room for me to sit on the piano bench with him and dream of his music in my mind as the birds sing away the afternoon. I am certain that Monk harmonizes with the birds each afternoon in heaven and God takes a long listen from a slow rocking chair.

I am not ducking Ferguson or Robin Williams, I just don’t know what to add to already broken conversations. I cannot speak in ultimate "rights" and "wrongs" on matters of death, justice, vindication, retribution where vengeance, depression, suicide are concerned. I just don’t know. People are going to be mad whatever the findings of the investigations are, understandably. Our culture solves chaotic problems with weapons. Why isn't anyone angry about that?

More than a decade ago, I got so mad at the church and its' leaders when it did not speak prophetically and quickly after 9-11-01, but I just don't know what to say now that it is my time to speak. Silence is also a form of prophetic imagination. Sometimes it is just too soon. Still, I am thankful for all who speak out. Continue with courage.

But I do know this: a long city park, once a railroad, Is a church in the kingdom of the God whom I worship. We, the Tobacco Trail Church, have already been about this project going into year five. We are small in numbers, and Ginormous in God’s imagination for what we can show the world. Maybe we are city planners. I am starting to think our people could be consultants to cities all over the world. Give us your tired and your poor plots of land. Reconstitute these spaces using a beautiful mind. The process will be fraught with challenges, but stay at it. Cross neighborhood boundaries. Gather despite fear and humiliation. Let the old railroads tell decade-old stories and broken economic and racial stories. Even the railroads, with each tie pulled up and re-tread with asphalt or compact screening or gravel will tell the truth of who we have really been and who we can be going forward. 

Do not be afraid to fail as you gather for worship and prayer. Get to the trail early and often and help the community with the re-design of these trails. If your church plant does not work--so what? You tried. Effort counts a lot in the kingdom, not for salvation or grace, but for showing courage. Most stuff in the world fails on a first attempt. And if you worship outside and it doesn't work, you do not have a mortgage or a lease to contend with. You are light with burden. 

I promise you this; your cities leadership will not mind you gathering so long as others can freely use the space. They want you out there and so does God. Anybody want to plant an outdoor church in or near Ferguson, Missouri? I will bet my back yard there is an abandoned railroad within a stone's throw of where blood was shed. Might have to turn a couple swords to plowshares in order to churn up the earth and get the land leveled so you can lay down a picnic blanket or two.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What to Do on June 15, 2014. Make-A-Wish® Eastern North Carolina

This is what I will be doing for Father's Day. I hope you will too.

Maggiano’s Father's Day 5K | Calendar Of Events | News & Events | Make-A-Wish® Eastern North Carolina

Fun for families, kids, singles. Don't be afraid to run whether you are a father or run. Ultimate Father's Day, let your wife run and you hang with the kids.

This is the first official race to cross the new American Tobacco Trail bridge. You don't want to miss it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

RESULTS: Matthew Waller Wins Mike to Mike Half Marathon 5/4/14

RESULTS: Top finishers of Mike to Mike Half Marathon - Military - Fayetteville Observer

These results reflect a win and a personal best for one of my closest friends, Matthew Waller. I have been lucky enough to call Matthew a colleague for four years, a member of the church where I serve as pastor for about a year, and training partner in running on and off over the last three years.

Matthew is a quiet man. He can be loud at times. Ridiculously funny. But, in his soul, he is quiet. I have even seen him irritated on group runs with too much talking. Strange, that a loud-mouth like me feels drawn to someone who can be stressed among "all the people" with "all the words." He is always professional, knowledgeable about many things from baking bread to building altars to coaching athletes. He takes the running industry seriously though it is one of his most recent areas of expertise. Matthew is an excellent writer, which you might not know.

In his own running and training, he has been prone to injury. He trains and prepares very wisely, but tends to pick up a little nick or a tweak just as things start really going in the right direction.

But it would appear that he is breaking trends. He won what was I am sure was a hot hilly half-marathon this morning in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He ran a 1:14 which his training indicated was very realistic. I predicted a 1:12 or 1:13, but like I said, it was likely hot and hilly and he must have run alone from the gun given that second place was four minutes behind. These are not easy race conditions.

I am very proud to call Matthew Waller my friend. I trust Jesus, that the two of us will be friends for years to come. Even if not, I am thankful for the time thus far.

George Linney
Pastor, Tobacco Trail Church

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mental Preparation: Getting to the Guts of the Athlete’s Mind

Mental Preparation:
Getting to the Guts of the Athlete’s Mind

Can you think of a time when your mental race preparation has gone great and impacted your race performance?

You were confident in your training, you were relaxed, you believed in your fuel, your nutrition.

Can you think of a time when your mental race preparation has derailed your performance OR simply ruined your life in the days leading up to a big race?

We all have these stories.

I am going to tell you three quick stories:

1987—I was 13, almost 14 and in the Eighth Grade. I was running the last and final race of my season in the Track Shack Grand Prix Series which meant I had toed the line in 5Ks and 10Ks in the Fall, Winter, and Spring probably 7 or 8 times by this race. I was a shoe-in to win my age category which had been my overwhelming goal at the beginning of the season, but now I was dreaming of much bigger things. Here I was, in bed, the night before the Winter Park 10K. I had run the Red Lobster 10K maybe three weeks before in a total breakthrough race for me—38 minutes. I had never dreamed of going that fast and the race was fairly easy like all great PR’s usually are.

From nowhere else but in between my own two ears, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders that I needed to set another PR in this last and final race. I had heard the course was faster than Red Lobster so it should have been easy.

The night before the race, I did not sleep a single minute. I ran 42 minutes, four minutes slower than a few weeks before, and I ended my season disappointed and exhausted.

I sabotaged my performance by forgetting my goals and being unrealistic and overly ambitious. Lack of sleep is not what really caused poor performance in this case.

2010—East Jesus, Maryland or West Virginia, seriously, I don’t know where we were. I was walking to the Walmart across from our RV on the blistering hot asphalt, on what had been about 10 hours of sleep over the five previous days. I thought I was going to die, throwup, passout, or worse from physical and mental exhaustion.

Yet, I rejected all those feelings, I got on my bike for probably the 40th or 50th time in the previous five days and executed the best riding of my life. Our Race Across America team had some major transportation glitches, meaning we only had one working van for the beginning of the session I am describing, which I could explain in great detail, but just take from the situation that I had to pull off some major team-leading decision making when I was probably on the verge of hallucination.

I relaxed, jumped curbs, dodged traffic, climbed various hills, and coordinated other bike riders to efficiently transition and ride to the best of their abilities. At the end of this two hour cycling pull, I passed out in the back of a moving van for what I was told was 45 minutes. There is a picture of me and I truly look passed-out or worse.

In the middle of an event, I just decided the best way to get to the end was to go faster and more efficiently.

2012—Wellness Center Super Sprint Triathlon. After a lackluster first attempt in 2011, I looked at the results and decided to enter the Pro Category based on my time predictions. I seeded myself last in the pool which was humbling, but appropriate. Rode a steady 10 miles on a borrowed tri-bike that I only had three rides on and that was about all the riding I did going into the race. Then, for me, the race started, and I ran a 17:36 split on a hilly Meadowmont 5K course. My only goal going into the race was to break 18 minutes for the 5K.

I set a small goal that I knew I could achieve with careful preparation and execution.

When I was 13, I was an unpredictable basket case going into races. Now, while I cannot always count on my fitness and injury-freeness at age 38, I can predict within a small window of uncertainty what my result will be before the gun goes off.

I have matured mentally.

If I don’t sleep the night before, I don’t sweat it. I know sleep is cumulative.

When travel has been rough, I know that my competition and teammates have endured the same thing.

I set goals within races that I can likely control and I always focus on the second half of any event which is where everything happens both physically and mentally. That’s true for 5K’s and Half Ironman events.

Basically, I am confident, and internally, borderline cocky. I got this. I own this race or at least this part of the race. This also takes great humility. Because there are time in every race when I will look like I am under performing. Usually, in the beginning. I can see on spectator’s faces, “You are going too slow.” I ignore it. Because I know more than they do.

When bad feelings come up as adrenaline rises, I control the demons with three to five deep breaths. John Parker describes controlling the ORB in Once a Runner. There is a roar out there that you need to get up “Up” for the race, but you have to be able to control it, call on it, and dismiss it when it comes around too soon.

I don’t have a magic trick for how to get mentally race ready. For me it was putting on a bib a few hundred times as well as a good deal of self-assessment and reflection. Are you writing down or filing away mentally what worked and did not work in your race preparation?

Repeat only the things that work.
As your bad self-loathing feelings come up share them with no one, this is just for race readiness, not for the rest of life. Remember, racing is just play. It’s just a game. Even if you were or are becoming a pro athlete, you need to approach these events appropriately based on the spirit of the sport. This means approach them with the intention of having FUN. Fun and playful is loose and fast.

You can be serious if that is your personality and it is mine, but have fun, and you will exceed your expectations.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Durham Needs Cleaning

Today is trash pick-up day.
Meet on Sunday, February 16, 2014
SOLITE PARK, Durham, North Carolina,  4704 Fayetteville Rd, Durham, NC 27713

2013-01-12_12-32-19_768 edit

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is Coldplay not cool if I cared

This Youtube link has the top 21 most listened to Coldplay songs:

And it does not even include my favorite:

Warning Sign

I wrote a poem, that was partially inspired by this Coldplay song and the poem is called, "Lament to Sunshine," published in Border Ways. If you need a copy of the book it is available from me, or at Regulator in Durham, or Quail Ridge in Raleigh, Barnes and Noble, Amazon. It's available a lot of places, a lot of ways.

The book hasn't sold much and the truth is...I couldn't care in the least. Seriously. That's not why I wrote a book of poetry.

I wrote a book of poetry so I could keep rolling things forward as pastor of the tobacco trail church.
Plain and simple. That's why I wrote the book. I wrote a book of poetry so that I could keep living my life. Some of the time that I was writing I was going through some tough stuff. Some of the time I was going through some pretty amazing stuff. All the while, I needed to write and publish so I could keep living.

If it sells, it sells, but that's not really very important.

I've been thinking about my mentor, David Whyte. He is a great poet. But his first poems are not as good as his more recent ones. You know what that means? I will get better too.

Here is the one from me inspired by Warning Sign, or at least the song by Coldplay gave the poem a rhythm. Truthfully, it was running and Slane, Ireland that made this poem come to life:


In my ear
is a Warning Sign
from Coldplay

Come on in
I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in…

…when the truth is
I miss you

a hillside for hunting
off to the left

Today, I run the road from Drogheda
wet from a hard rain, but not anymore
now sun is over the horizon at my left
and I sink to 6:30s
why not, for I’m tired but Coldplay works
through the fatigue
I’d do well to do just the same.
I envision them playing at Slane Castle.
It is nearby, but I am not going that way.
Touristy things are not on my list
I have been to Open Farm and down to Duleek Quarry
stopped at the bridge
over the railroad tracks
watched the tractors
churn the earth
while birds seek the afterbirth
of the newly delivered
turned over
I’ve seen the way these people live—mostly farmers.

It is what I came for.

Check out: 
I wrote from the second story of this building looking out over the River Boyne and her lush green pastures.

Friday, January 31, 2014

London Jax 'Ruby Lips'

Listen on YouTube, comment, blast this out. Lead singer is the son of some of my oldest friends. Let's help London Jax as they get rolling.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ttc gathering today, Sunday, January 12, 2014 and Sundays ahead.

Today: We will be running and brunching.
7am at Tyler's American Tobacco Campus to begin run on the American Tobacco Trail. 10am at Tyler's for brunch. Bring cash to contribute to brunch.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
5pm Copa Vida Coffee for a run/walk. 6pm at Copa Vida to get to know their story.

Sunday, January 26, 2014
2pm at McAlpine Park, Charlotte. Various friends running an 8K cross country race. Register at and make sure to register as "Tobacco Trail Church." We have a mixed team and would love to add you to our team.

Sunday, February 2, 2014
6pm at Copa Vida Coffee, Coffee and Worship, Singing and Fellowship. Preaching and teaching will be based on the "Presentation of the Lord," Luke 2:22-40.

Sunday, February 9, 2014
Noon at Mellow Mushroom American Tobacco Campus to begin run on the American Tobacco Trail. 3pm at Mellow Mushroom for pizza and beverages. Bring cash to contribute to brunch.