I work in Tewksbury, MA at the corner of Route 495 and 133. I'm a Software Engineer who sits on his fat a*s all day writing Linux code. I try to take a break everyday at lunch to get out and run a few miles. I found some nice running routes around here ranging in distance between 4 and 8 miles. The hills aren't too bad, but I wish there were more of them. I used to work in Greenville, NH and the hills around Mason were my training ground for about 2 years. There were also some gorgeous, isolated trails around that area where you could run completely n*ked if you wanted and no one would know. I wouldn't know anything about that though since I'm the shy, reserved type of person. :) But I decided that I wanted to change gears in my career so I took a job down here in Tewksbury.
One of my favorite routes is something I call the Fryer Tuck route. It's a 7.7 mile route that includes 3 good hills and some nice, quiet neighborhoods. It's a far cry from the isolated trails in Greenville, but at least I'm out running and not being run off the road too many times by a Soccer mom balancing a phone in one hand and a coffee cup in the other. Right smack in the middle of this course is a Francsiscan Monestary. Attached to the monestary is a very large and old Retreat house. The monestery is a modest building with a large fence surrounding the compound. The larger Retreat house is surrounded by wide open fields. Once in a while I see Fryer Tuck walking around the grounds. Actually, I don't know if it really is Fryer Tuck. I don't even know if the person is a male or female. It's a human (I assume) in a brown robe with a rope tied around the middle and they sometimes have their hood on. They remind me of those sand people in the original Star Wars, but much, much larger. And fatter.
Running gives me plenty of time to think and I think a lot about this place. I wonder what God must think of these people, walling themselves off from the rest of society, not contributing to the common good by not paying taxes, living off the donations of hard working people, not facing the stresses and challenges of life like the rest of us. They don't need to deal with job deadlines, nasty bosses, kids issues like drugs, s*x and rebellion. I'm not sure if this is what God intended for us. I believe that humans grow, both physically and spiritually, through hardship and struggle. From what I can see of the Fransiscan Monestery, these people don't have much hardship. The Retreat house makes me laugh every time. What do these people have to retreat from? My retreat is usually 10 minutes alone in the bathroom reading my Runners World. I can't imagine putting life on hold to retreat away. It's just not possible. Do I want to? Sure! I want to do a lot of things that just aren't possible. I think everyone does.
So I run past the Monestery and the little gift shop and the beautiful grounds as I continue on my run. I soon forget all about Fryer Tuck, until the next time I run this route.