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, March 26, 2009

A Little Piece of Heaven

For a few days now I’ve been watching winter attempt a comeback - throwing us icy cold winds, scattered snow, and then just cold, drizzling rain – bone-cold wet. Most of us around here just want springtime. Count me in. And this has really affected my attitude toward getting outdoors and running. But at some point, I just have to do it. And this happened at 7:31am this very morning. I got my gear together, and headed out the door for Birch Island Park and some aggressive hill repeats. I was looking for an intense workout. If I didn’t have the time for “long”, I’d find the time for “hard”. Some 10.66 miles later, after ascending 2636 feet and descending 2645 in the course of just under 3 hours, I felt like I had achieved my goal – a good, solid workout on the hills. The temperature was 28F with a wind that grew from 5 to 9 mph over my run. Sky was cloudy with just a brief attempt by the sun to burn through. This was a good day for running in the woods.

I’ve written much about the staggering beauty of the woods and trails, and how these are glorious reflections of their heavenly Creator. Today I was thinking how this was all a little piece of heaven. Now before you misunderstand me, let me say that I was not thinking about the flora and fauna, I was not thinking about the woods and trails. But rather, I was thinking about the person in the woods or on the trails. Yes, woodlands are spectacular, but they touch the heart. The beauty is staggering, but these touch my heart and they touch the heart of the person wandering the trails or running through the woods. There is something here. Is this some of what Jesus meant when He said, “…the kingdom of heaven is within you…”? [Luke 17:21] We know from other places in the Gospels that Jesus spoke frequently about the Kingdom of God. Just a quick glance at Matthew 13 and we find a number of them. These teachings highlight many things, but one thing is clear – the Kingdom of God is found, in part, in our hearts. Our hearts reflect a love of the pure and holy, or they reflect baser values. Our hearts reach heavenward, or they a satisfied with lesser treasure. And it is here that we find a little piece of heaven. These slices of paradise are reflected in the way we see the woodlands, the way we hear the sounds of the wild, and the way we smell the fresh, bracing wind; whether our hearts rise up in praise as we are assaulted by these wonders, or whether we simply attribute them to some chance event long ago. Oh, there is no chance! There is a God in heaven, and He’s pressing in on our hearts as we wander the trails and forests. He is touching our hearts and giving us a little piece of heaven – if we are willing to receive it.

Today was a good day of running on the trails. I hope you were able to find your little piece of heaven. It is just there for the taking. Reach out. Tonight I’m resting from my workout with my heart just a little bigger than it was this morning because I was blessed with an almighty encounter. With each touch of glory spilling from the woods and trails, I felt the pull of heaven; prayers and worship rising as I ran hard and true.

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