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.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

In What Does a Man’s Life Consist?

I have been blessed with two days of running. Although I was not in the mood on either day, I pushed out against myself and was given truly rewarding experiences. I need to do that with my reluctant me; I need to drag it out of its comfortable inactivity to pursue broader objectives – the things that need to be done. Maybe you’re like me. Anyway, yesterday I logged a 5 miler in Purgatory Park in the late afternoon about quarter of 6pm; four circuits plus a bit. The temperature was a gleeful 37F with an added west wind of 10 gusting to 17. I say “gleeful” because the ground was gushy and warm and melting away the ice and hard pack. Oh joy! I even needed to make a game of dancing around the mud and puddles. I hear that the near term forecast includes numerous 40s and 50s and above; sounds good to me. This morning, not quite 12 hours later at a little before 6am, I began a 10 miler from my home along the Regional Trail to the Hopkins Depot and back. The temperature was 28F with a south wind of 6. This is largely a flat run with a little up and down near the beginning and the end. I can stretch out miles here and work on my endurance. In fact, in other times of year this is just a section of several of my other longer training routes. Today, though, only 10; and that is just fine with me.

Yesterday afternoon was relatively warm and I saw numerous people out for a walk. I watched the sun drop over the edge of the earth from the park’s highpoint and found new reservoirs of energy in my body as it gradually builds and conditions to more frequent and longer runs. Yesterday, too, I knew it would not be a long run, so I determined to drive myself along with some music. Today, though, I stuffed the ipod in my hydration pack only as a backup if I found I was going bonkers and needed some focus. At 5:47am it’s plenty dark out and my headlamp was helpful. Yesterdays gushy ground was gone and was replaced by a hardness and some bits of glaze ice. Just be careful, I told myself, and take your time. This morning I longed for solitude and the quiet of a morning: the solitary running, the sound of my footfall, a sound of my breathing, and thoughts of my heart and mind mingling with in a day, an occasional owl in the darkness, and later the birds in the trees singing in the morning sun, and then ducks and geese finding their way across the sky.

Yesterday I made a note in my journal, “In what does a man’s life consist? Where is the worth?” Today as I read those words I had written, I was reminded of Henry Scougal who died in 1657 at the age of 27. He wrote to a friend, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love….” [The Life of God in the Soul of Man, p 68] Our own lives are made richer or more impoverished by what we set our affections on, what we set our love upon. This is much like something that the apostle Paul wrote,

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” [Colossians 3:1-4]

My running over the last few weeks has driven me into many thoughts and reflections about my Lord and His ways. Each time I go out and run, I am confronted with His work, His beauty, His thoughts in my heart and prayers, His love and compassion, and His Fatherly care and leading; the Shepherd of my Soul. Paul says in another place,

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” [Romans 1:20a]

I get excited about this. The whole of creation becomes to me a lesson book on the ways of God – if I am willing to observe closely and wait patiently for Him to teach me things. Every run a place to behold the Mighty God and see His world with new eyes; every encounter divine; every challenge and struggle becoming just the right mix of nurturing from my heavenly Father’s hand; and every step taking me home to an eternity with Him. Run with me. And run to Him – the Author and Finisher of our faith. Run hard and run true.

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