Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Melody and her friend Jamie are doing a half-marathon at the end of April in Nashville. I got talked into it, and will accompany them. I told myself it would be a good getaway. Besides, I’ve never been to a city where they purposely misspell “opera.”

I want to walk the event and finish under three hours. To do that, I will have to maintain a 13.75 minute-per-mile pace. Lately, on my fast Friday walks, I’ve kept up 11 minutes a mile, give or take ten seconds. But that’s for three and a quarter miles only. I will feel primed for Music City success when I’m able to do eight miles at a thirteen and a half minute pace. I could probably do it today with help from my favorite elixir: Gatorade.

The girls did a seven-mile walk/run two days ago, and were tired. Melody told Jamie about my 62-mile walk/run in 1982 from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. The distance sounded so fantastic to Melody as she related it to her friend that she began doubting the distance. Jamie herself thought it a piece of science fiction. So Melody came home and asked me.

It seemed like sci-fi to me, too. Who was that alien of ’82 who tried everything and feared nothing? Yet I confirmed everyone’s worst fears. So Melody called Jamie and said, “Yep. He did 62 miles, all right. He just showed me his route on the map.”

I was flattered by the sudden fuss. Now Jamie is in awe of me. She does not care a whit that I am a writer of books. That the world’s most outspoken Bible scholar lives down the road from her elicits but a yawn. It’s Zender-Schmender, to her. But twenty-two years ago I did something physical that she now appreciates the difficulty of, and today it’s—Way to go, Martin!

Jamie is a Christian who enjoys the socially accepted end of the spiritual well. People who lower themselves via wooden buckets into that well, toward the secrets of Christ, are oddballs to her. Melody and Jamie do speak of spiritual matters, but always on Jamie’s terms. Melody’s terms would cross the border into Weirdsville, where Jamie is unwilling to be seen.

Two years ago, I talked Jamie into doing the sexy, “And now, here’s Martin” line on my Part-Time Sinner CD. I suppose she regrets it. For sure, she has never heard it. I can write anything I want to about Jamie without fear of reprisal—she never reads me. I gave her one of my books, Flawed by Design, because I thought it would help her through a trial. That was well over a year ago, and I’m still wondering about the book’s impression. Being an optimist, I’m assuming she buried it. But never mind that, for I am a god of forward motion to her now; an idol of self-propulsion.

I like Jamie. She is a good friend to Melody, and a good person. I wonder how she would have fared in first-century Palestine. Even if she hung out at the well with the other women, I suspect that the theology of Jesus would have been way too weird for her. But His walk from Jerusalem to Nazareth—now that would have tickled her bones sure.

© 2006 by Martin Zender