She imagines statues of the Virgin and St. Francis - Weebly.com
SISTER STEPHANIE RUNS THE CHICAGO MARATHON
by Angie Minkin
Author's Note 1: Sister Stephanie Baliga is a nun with the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels
and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to serve her very poor neighborhood on the West Side of
Chicago. In 2020, she ran the Chicago Marathon (26.2 miles) on a treadmill in the Mission’s
basement in three hours and 33 minutes. An excellent time, despite the treadmill tripping
the convent’s circuit breaker three times and knocking out the power.
Author's Note 2: This is an Abecedarian poem.
Air shifts, wakes Sister and the angels. Early,
before the sun rises, Sister Stephanie stirs, hears
call of birdsong and bells, crawls from bed,
dead-tired, perhaps, but no matter. Glory flames
everywhere in her world, this silent time to
fly, to race through empty west-side streets. She is
giddy with joy as she quietly unlatches the
huge convent door, devoting her body to God, an
instrument of grace, this young nun, this stubborn
Joan of the trails, determined to outfit the Mission’s
kitchen, to feed the poor. Confident she has power to
lift her community, heal hearts, make them whole.
Money flows with the miles and she learns to speak out,
never doubting her own nerve, her speed, her pace.
Observing God’s work in every stick, every crack in the
pavement, each black bird’s trill. She won’t fail in her
quest to finish the 2020 marathon, canceled by Covid.
Running resolutely on the basement treadmill, she imagines
statues of the Virgin and St. Francis giving elbow bumps.
Tough teens, frail seniors, all homebound, ready to give
up, cheer virtually. Sister Stephanie will run that loop forever. She
vacuums up the miles, smiling, glowing, really. Even atheists
willingly to pray with her, counting the rosaries. Sister knows she is
exactly where she must be, knows she will succeed, knows
Yahweh made her this way, perfect, a running nun. Sister finds her
Zen, her mission, her glory.
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