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Running Toward, Not Away

Alison wearing green jacket and smiling at the camera
Alison Casella Brookins on a run

This has been such a shitty year.

It’s been shitty for me for many of the same reasons it’s been shitty for us all, for some reasons that are particular to my context, and for some reasons unique to my own mind and body. This year has left me chock full of gunk, hazy-brained and perpetually sad.

And under the weight of it all, my body has whispered to me: Run.

So I’ve run.


I started running in seminary, after a lifetime of despising running and disdaining all who did it. Seriously, what an awful, painful, pointless thing to do, and also, your face gets so red.

Studying and living on campus at my seminary, working my brain, my heart, and my soul, I would get to the point where everything just felt so intense that I wanted to weep, scream, or hide (maybe while weeping or screaming). I just had to get it all out somehow without punching someone. For context, I’m from the peace-church tradition, and my seminary was a punch-free campus.

So instead, I went running.

I listened to audiobooks (which I still refer to as “books on tape,” modernity be damned) while I ran. If I listened to music, my brain would just keep fretting. A book would let my imagination take over my mind, and let the running take over my body.

Running and listening, I can simply be.

A river captured from the side of a path on a cloudy day
Alison's scenic running route


It’s been hard to even consider ordination this year. It’s hard to imagine this joyful affirmation of calling during a time when I’m feeling so uprooted and isolated.

Training for this half marathon has turned into a serviceable metaphor for the journey towards ordination.

I’m running to claim my identity—this is who I am, a person called to the ministry. This is who I am, this person in this body, this strong body, this fast (ish) body. I can only do this work as myself—and I have to do it as my whole self, i.e. body, mind, and soul.

I’m running through the doubts and the “shoulds” and the “ought to haves” towards something solid and centered.

I’m running to fully embody the struggle and pain and “what the f*@#-ness??” and transcendent joy of this calling.

I’m doing this—all of this, being ordained, running—because I love it.


Alison's selfie during her run
Alison during her run

This work of integrating body mind and soul, of learning to simply be with our ourselves and each other—this is the work of the Center for Art, Humor, and Soul. And so I’m running as a fundraiser for CAHS, to help build up this network of edgewalkers to help more people run the races they have before them.

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