And the day God breathed upon your still life, stirring into being the green leaf and the flower, bud upon the branch and light
upon your soul. Here you felt the earth’s air on your petals and your leaves, and squinted into sunlight, gazing high for heaven
until you felt the gardener’s hand gently turning soil and soul, and nurturing you, bud in radiant sun.
Cascading rain absorbed in warm earth turning, heaven of fragrance. What is that sound in the wind and dazzling light?
Oh, the sweet sound of your delight in God. Sometimes it is like the sound of running laughter.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fingerprints and Faith

I made it out the door yesterday about midday; it was about 4F with an 8 mph wind from the south. Reading the current conditions before I left the house, I expected the southerly wind to feel warm. Not so. It had a bite. At least the sun was shining bright when I started though it hazed over. I headed for Birch Island Park and the hills. I needed some trails and hills to work on. And the forest provides a quiet and peaceful setting to just meditate and worship. I got all that and so much more. For me most often the trail becomes a place of worship, a sacred prayer closet. “O Lord, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” Psalms 26:8 Over the course of about 8 ½ miles I thought a lot about God’s glory and His beautiful creation. There are creatures living in the woods that have the awesome role of living to His praise with every breath they breathe. To think about it, that’s my part too – to live and breathe to His praise and glory. So when I run along the trails and through the woods, I see His handiwork at every turn; and the praise is rising from my heart and mind all along the way. I see His fingerprints and my own faith grows. That’s why I love to pray along the trail; my faith increases with each step.

Well, I’m not yet in any condition for 8 miles of trails and hills. And it was not long before my legs were screaming, “We’re done! We’re tired! We’re quitting!” Of course, I ignored these little pleas and mildly adjusted my pace so that I could focus and keep going. Focus? Yes, focus – on the beauty and majesty before me – the “…taking your heart by storm…” wonder of my beloved Lord and His stunning world surrounding me. Who would want to stop running into the glory of God along paths that He had drawn!? Our path as pilgrims is to look forward and keep going, to run into the glory that God has made.

I was reading Spurgeon yesterday. He quoted 2 Corinthians 4:18: “The things which are not seen.” He said, “In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith.”

This is where I want to be – looking and moving forward, keeping my eyes fixed on His glory with the “eye of faith”. Yes, we are pilgrims walking (or running) after our Lord into the wonder and beauty of each new day He spreads out before us. The trails are just fine with me even if the way is uneven and twisting and full of surprise; even if exhaustion shadows our footsteps as we are pursuing Him. There is so much to see and know. Breathe deep, dear pilgrim, and keep on running the race.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pursuit of the Beautiful

Some few days back I came across my last birthday card from my 23-year-old son. On it he had quoted Frank Floyd Wright, “If you invest in beauty it will remain with you all the days of your life.” As I read the words, I was again wonderfully touched that he had given this to me. And it got me thinking. Why do men of his age, striking out on their own and occupied with the careers and relationships and a thousand other important things, bother to wonder about “beauty” and “all the days of your life”? I think the answer is that my son truly values beauty and things much bigger than just a career – things bigger than the world or himself. We focus on and pursue those things that we value. I know my son, and I know he loves beauty, but he loves so much more. He loves to write music and poetry and to read truly good literature. Yet it’s not just him. His 29-year-old sister sent me the lyrics to a song she is working on; a poem she has been composing for some time. We pursue those things that we really value – like beauty. Sometimes beauty comes as a tender song, a touching poem, a worthy idea, or even a good brush on canvas. These things need to be woven into our lives, into our fingers, and into our minds and hearts; an atmosphere for loving beautiful things, of music being made and books being read and painting or drawing. And other beautiful things like caring for others and helping someone in need, or simply listening: pursuit of the beautiful.

Late afternoon today I squeezed a five miler in between dropping off and picking up my 13-year-old son from his activities. The temperature was hovering just above 0 at a tasty 2F - though feeling much colder. I did a little over four circuits in Purgatory Park. The circuits are 1.23 miles during which you ascend 527 feet and descend 555. This is true if you climb to the park’s summit each time around and take in the view. I love to do this. It is the view I'm after, the beauty. Each time around I know that I will climb to the top and look – even if only for a moment – at the broad expanse spread out before me. The view looks westward. Over the years I’ve seen glorious sunsets and lazy afternoons and stormy wall clouds and much more. And I’ve shared the view with the rising sun on many mornings: the sun just peeking over the horizon and me gazing across the park at the wonders that God has made. Yes, pursuing beauty and so many other things. I think God calls us to this: to see His reflection in a thousand small moments each day. One good spot to catch a glimpse is the summit in Purgatory Park.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Backside of Frustration

I suppose you’ve noticed by now that not everything flows according to plan. As in any training and preparation circumstances arise that cause us to change course. Planned runs are set aside in the face of falling temperatures, other’s schedules regularly derailing our own, and the myriad life traffic seems to work at frustrating our progress. This can deflate any spirit. But there is another face to all of this. On the backside of these events is a clear signature of the author involved. What’s this? Ah, the very Author of Life itself and all that is within this world. It is the Lord Himself. And here I find sweet consolation. When I’ve done my best to go forward and “be there” even in the face of challenges and frustrations, I can rest in the confidence that a Sovereign God is ruling over all. It will be ok. Plans are – well, just plans, after all. He can work with this jar of clay, this bit of dust. He can and will carry me forward. And above all, His purposes will be achieved. It has never been about us; not about our running or our race. Rather it has been and always will be about His running and His race. What has He set before us today? That is the central question. Today we run the race that He has set before us. Come along, run with me. It is a good day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009



Sojourning still in holy silence,
I whisper prayers of waiting here,
Heaven’s winds, as day nears end
And sighs as night eclipses eye
To see in dreams as hopes fulfilled.
Tomorrow has its paths and trails
And listening on a new breeze then;
Another day and miles to gaze,
Sojourner I to wander in His ways.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Some days it is all about just doing it, going forward, keeping moving. Yesterday I ran a 10 miler for the first time since my October/November leg surgeries. It was an encouraging 19F. I told myself, “Just an easy pace, maintain it – goal: finish 10 mile run without incident.” It was a partly sunny to sunny afternoon with pleasant breeze at my back that surprised me a bit on my turnaround - a colder than I anticipated bite in the wind, but I adjusted. My spirit soared at moments as I considered the path I have been on and how faithful and merciful my Lord has been. I was thinking about sojourning. We move along and we wait for Him to give us the next step. And we advance forward and then we wait. For the children of Israel they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When God moved, they moved. When God stopped, they stopped. They sojourned. They were fixed on His pace and His plan. Not necessarily understanding it, but following it nonetheless. Likewise, we are sojourning – which means most importantly, that we are waiting on God. We are dependent on Him. We are fixed on Him. This is our life. As He moves we move, and as He stops, we stop.

so·journ (sō'jûrn', sō-jûrn') intr.v. so·journed , so·journ·ing , so·journ
To reside temporarily. n. A temporary stay; a brief period of residence.
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.


So"journ*ing\, n. The act or state of one who sojourns.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

And so I was thinking about this life we live waiting on God, this life of sojourning. I was thinking that it becomes a path followed, a trail, a way of life. Like yesterday as I ran. Taking the next step and the next, and over the course of my run – a path followed. With Jesus it is all about paths followed.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Jesus, Matthew 7:13-14

This morning tested my resolve. I got up reluctantly and thought I should just skip my planned 5 miles. But then I thought, “When will I get serious about running again?” Somewhere in myself I found a sliver of earnestness. So, I got my running gear on and pushed out the door. It was 15F and gray overcast. Don’t think too hard about this, Henry. Just keep moving out the door, out to the road, down the road, keep running, don’t look back. Follow Him. Keep moving with Him. Today I was layering a 5 miler over my 10 miler yesterday to begin my gradual build on endurance; necessary steps to broader running goals. Today’s goal, like yesterday was simply to maintain an easy pace and finish the planned run. Again, God was there for me.

This morning as I ran, my head was jammed with a thousand obstacles - my legs are lead, my body weighs a thousand pounds, I can’t move, my hands are cold, my body is sweating, my breathing is not enough oxygen, my legs are profoundly weary and not able anymore, and oh man, when will this be done? I felt so silly. This was only a 5 mile run. What was the big deal? But in all the mental noise and rambling I found His calm. He just took me. And then I was confident in Him. He will sustain me, I thought. Just keep moving and you will be home.

"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, 'Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." Hebrews 10: 35-39

This is the life - serious conditioning for the challenges; training for endurance; preparing to run the race. And He is there. In it all we have Him as our strength and companion. He is the way of our sojourning. The race will not be easy and is not for the faint-hearted. But this is why we prepare and build endurance. This is why we learn to find strength in Him; to lean on Him. He is my all.

Well, I did get back home and relax with a coffee and breakfast, and finished it off with some quiet reading from His Word; as it turned out - a perfect morning. I’m going to have to do this more often. I think I enjoy this endurance thing, and I feel better than I’ve felt for a long time. His life is a good life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Discipline and Wonder

Sometimes I reluctantly go running; like yesterday. Although I had been mentally planning a pre-dawn run for the morning and had laid out all my running gear, when the morning actually came, well… all my excitement and anticipation evaporated into the warm and comfortable folds of the hoodie I was wearing during morning devotions. “I do not need to run today?” I assured myself. In the end, though, I pushed myself out the door with the view that I did need to run; I need these basic disciplines. I need regular scheduled runs, and cross training, and – yes! – I need goals. I need this stuff. A quick change into my running gear and I was out the door. It was about 8F and calm. I felt good in the morning air. I had new mittens I was trying out as I headed for a nearby wooded area. Ok, my hands will stay warm this morning.

About a mile from my home a few moments after 10am I ducked into Birch Island Park. This is a secluded and little known resource in our area. I had not been here much in the past fifteen years, but thought I should explore things afresh. First, I tried out some recent additions by the local municipalities, a tidy new little footbridge and some official, paved walkways. I appreciated them, but they were just a tease. No real miles to lay down, no real effort or adventure. Then I really got excited when I saw the footprints in the snow wandering off into the woods. A trail! I was on it in a moment, and what a fine morning it turned out to be. This fresh, clear morning air and sun shining through the trees, the quiet of the woods in snow, the loveliness and glory of creation all around me - Oh joy! I scampered around in Birch Island for almost two hours logging just under 8.5 miles with elevation changes of about 1160ft ascending and descending. It was up a hill and down a slope and through the trees and around the bend and up another hill and along a ridge and repeat and again and more sun and fresh air and praise coming from every pore of my being acknowledging my Creator and His beautiful work. We do not deserve this glorious world to enjoy. We are so blessed – especially on days like yesterday in the woods. On such days we savor the wonder and let our hearts lift in the sheer grand beauty.

So there I was breathing deep with my heart open wide, beginning to most deeply and wonderfully enjoy my experience in the woods when it occurred to me - I came to that place by practically dragging myself out of the house. I came to that peaceful woodland sanctuary after a serious mental struggle. My other me wanted to hang back and stay cozy and skip the run. But it was the adherence to the discipline that put me in a situation so pleasing, so fine, so altogether-other. The discipline led me to a fresh experience of the divine, a new taste of creation, a fresh view of my Lord as The Artist, a peaceful woodland run, a blessing from His own hands. Wow! What if I would have missed this?

Remember those morning devotions. Sometimes I reluctantly read my Bible. This is another discipline for me – but far more critical and very necessary. I really need the time with God to read His Word and pray. I need the time with Him to set my steps aright. Each day has too many distractions, and His Word is my daily feast. I pray that these disciplines will keep me facing heavenward. The Lord is my high passion; let me run after Him.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sunglasses and Tunes

After busily accomplishing a number of small tasks I turned my attentions to a run in mid-afternoon. The weather was reporting as 19F and fair skies. I saw wild open sunlight streaming at me. I grabbed my sunglasses, some tunes, and set out for a gorgeous time in the fresh air and light breeze. You can’t always rely on a “weather report” to determine your life or your level of pleasure on a sunny afternoon – even if there is a nip in the air. I repeated my run of two days ago for a little over five miles. My tired legs were evidence that I’m not yet in the best condition. It will take some time. That’s fine. Running is an endurance sport before anything else. And that’s one of the things I love about it. Small runs build to bigger runs, and bigger runs build to long runs, and long runs build to longer runs. And all this while our conditioning is becoming more and more finely tuned to various challenges and struggles. In fact, we come to some running experiences almost excited about a special situation to overcome. Remember when you got caught in that downpour? It was challenging to work through, but you loved it; yes, you seriously loved it. You were stronger for having overcome the struggle. And I’m guessing you loved running just a little more deeply after that.

During my run today, Bob Dylan was singing “Pressing On”. I love this song. It is also about an endurance run – living for God through tough times and tougher. This is how I see my life with God, too. We press on, we endure, we overcome. Beginning with small challenges and growing to bigger ones. We progress from long runs to longer runs. And all the while our conditioning is improving. We are learning about Him and His ways. We are deepening and loving more fully. We are seeing the world increasingly with His eyes and His heart; our passions grounded in the Creator’s glory and mercies.

Another day, another run, a deeper passion and way of seeing the world with fresh eyes. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” [1Cr 13:12] I must keep running this race. There is so much see and know, and there is so much to love. Each day it seems that God makes my heart just a little bit bigger. Maybe that is so I can cling to Him all the more closely.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Predawn Quiet

Predawn quiet. Just the morning and me and my God. Together. I run easy. To be honest, I run carefully on the icy road, just barely eight weeks out from minor surgeries on both legs. It feels so good to come back to this solitude and keen awareness of creation stirring in the morning. God allows me another morning on these legs. So I tell myself that if I grow tired later in the run, that I must look past the weariness to see what God has given me. I set my heart to be thankful. Here I am - I am running again. And, yes, tears come now. He has done so much for me. He overwhelms me daily with His gifts, His mercies. Thinking of this usually makes me cry.

My daughter Abbey returned to Paris, France yesterday. We were all sad to see her go, but she has things that need doing and a life to live. Keep living joyfully, Abbey, it blesses all of those around you. It was Abbey that got me running again. I was a bit too content to stay in “recovery” from my little leg operations. I needed her encouragement and company. She was God’s push on me to get moving. We need that sometimes.

This morning I ran a little over five miles. The sun tipped over the horizon on my last quarter mile. Dressed for a temperature in the teens, my hands were getting cold at -3F. Coming down the road in the new day winking sunlight, the house looked very good to me. I was thinking of a cup of hot coffee. God is so good to us. Think about it - we get Him and new morning light and crisp air bright and running free and hot steaming coffee. We are so blessed. What a good day.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Come Along

I begin quietly with little noise and commotion, almost imperceptible stirrings inside to share my deep joy with you. I tell myself, just begin to write. So, from this solitary place, please let me share some of my wanderings. Can we see more together? And can we hear and smell and taste with more clarity? As we go together for awhile, let me unfold a story that has no boundaries in the heart.

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (Heb 12:1b)

And now we pursue the greatest treasure in the world. Come along.