The news has a cycle but I still run in a circle. Most days, I lace up my running shoes, stretch and shake my legs out before running around a homemade track around a pond. I run to work out problems. I run down leads on ideas. I run to reflect on my life and what God is making of it.
Feet to the ground, I run until my heart pounds, until I am out of breath, until there is nothing left. Head down, hands on my knees, sweat beading down my nose, I run hard.
Lap one. Music in my ear, one foot in front of the other, I enter my head and now Ahmaud is there. He will be my running partner for the rest of my life. Murdered, lynched while jogging, I cannot get his last run out of my head. Stopped dead in his tracks.
Lap two. I remember that he fought back, that he went down swinging. He stood his ground; he wouldn’t back down. Still, his body swayed and then he went down in the street. Face down. His feet now buried deep within the ground. I turn the music down and wail.
I am Rachel, weeping in the streets.
I run now in sackcloth and dab my face with ashes. Were you there when they lynched Ahmaud? Yes, William Bryan was there and did nothing to stop it. Why didn’t he speed ahead and get in between them? Why didn’t he put the camera down and help Ahmaud? I flashback and it reminds of lynching postcards, pictures taken of dead African Americans sent to relatives across the country.
I see no difference here.
Lap three. Seventy- four days later they are arrested. Where was justice before then? Taking a 74- day break?
Running is a discipline but the justice system practiced none. Cutting slack and giving breaks to his murderers as Ahmaud’s body decomposed. They went home but he did not. No cop chase, no arrest, no prison break, they went home.
Lap four. There is a form, a manner of breathing, a rhythm deep within that sets the pace when running. He is with me and I am with him now. I run and say his name, “This is for you, Ahmaud. I am running with you, Ahmaud. I won’t forget you, Ahmaud.”
So whether I feel like it or not, for Ahmaud Arbery, I’ve got to run.