”Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed” (Romans 12: 2).
That is certainly what Honor Hill from Dallas, Texas is doing. She’s a practitioner of Christian Science and for many years gave public lectures on a spiritual view of aging. She’s still working, alongside her relatively new pursuit of training and participating in marathons. We recently chatted over the phone about her thoughts on the topic.
“In my lectures I often said, ‘We know that old is the opposite of young. But old is also the opposite of new.’ I would then challenge the audience to think about what they did to grow new every day. Because to experience something new every day is to embrace life.”
Honor says our limitations are truly mental in nature and that we’ve come a long way since her grandmother’s time when it would never have been thought possible to run a marathon at her age.
Honor first entered a 5K walking race. Then, after progressing to a couple of half marathons, she decided to walk a half marathon in her home town of Newcastle upon Tyne in England last September. She walked the 13.1 miles and made it in 2 hr. 51 min. (Her best time now is 2 hr. 43 min.)
She’s had to work her way up to the running. “I love running . . . especially when I’m not actually doing it!” Honor candidly admits she’s better at walking than at running. In fact she’s a faster walker than all of her friends, even the younger ones. (I told her I’m a pretty fast walker and she challenged me to beat her time!)
Training in the hot Dallas sun isn’t easy with summer temps often pushing over 100. As Honor sought inspiration about the training and performing, she thought about the connection between consciousness and health. She says, “When people talk about mind-body, there’s the assumption that the body communicates back to the mind–the idea of ‘listening to your body’ to know how it’s feeling etc. But I don’t believe the body has any communicative skills. Christian Science shows that it’s a one-way street–just Mind [God] instructing the body, never body to Mind.”
Honor emphasizes exercising wisdom and humility with activities one pursues. She likes this idea from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook on Christian Science she studies daily in tandem with the Bible: “Mind’s infinite ideas run and disport themselves. In humility they climb the heights of holiness.”
“Disport means joy in the activity. I think we need to avoid hubris–pridefully doing things we’re not really ready to do. I need to be humble, submit to wisdom, and at the same time not submit to limitation.”
She lives with this other statement from Science and Health: “Mind is the source of all movement, and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action.” That’s gotten her through some “walls” in races because, as she says, “Mind, God, doesn’t age–its movement, life, and action is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That means my movement needn’t be affected by age.”
She is clear about her motive for pursuing her sport. “I don’t run to defy common thoughts about aging, I’m doing it because I love to do it. I’ve made new friends and found new ways of looking at the world. It’s about newness.” And to that, she adds, “I even started to learn to play bagpipes a few years ago!”
Honor said she’s never experienced injury or illness while pursuing her sport, which she attributes to her daily prayer practice. “I focus on the joy of it . . . it’s just a lot of fun.”