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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shanghai in Dead Calm and Eternity

When you have a plan, try and stick to it. This was my challenge yesterday afternoon at 5:01pm – I had a plan to run, but I had at least a dozen reasons why I should abandon it in deference to less demanding activities. It all started with an hour of cross training including ellipticals (30), rowing (20), and a pinch of universals (10); then a visit to the Bund, capturing the cityscape on my camera, and looking around that area of the city. I discovered Old Town, drank tea in a little shop, and spent way too much time in the sun. Exhausted, I headed for the hotel. My intention was a late afternoon run, but I held off until the sun was pretty low before I ventured out to lay down a few miles.

It was 30.3C (91.94F) with 42% humidity in a dead calm. With information from the hotel, I mapped out a simple course to the nearby Central Park – a recommendation of one of my daughter’s many international friends. This was one of the places within Shanghai where one could actually run. The prospect had me excited: a truly urban run. It was time to explore this urban jungle.

I made my way through a few streets to a broad boulevard called Central Avenue (of course) and headed in the direction of the park. Less than a mile away I came to Central Park – a sprawling area of green space, water features and little bridges, along with broad, stone paved walking areas. Much of the run was on flat stone sidewalks with small paving stone side paths for the meditatively minded or for those looking for anything interesting and challenging in a beautifully maintained public space. The park has a truly restful atmosphere. Roses in the twilight, water reflecting, couples strolling, and workmen working until there would be no light. Given the population of Shanghai, expected to exceed 19 million this year, I saw surprisingly few visitors to the park. It seemed as many people working there as wandering about. Well, I had a lot of room to myself anyway. After doing a number of varying circuits through this lovely area and garnering not a few odd looks as I kept passing the same people repeatedly, I headed back in the direction of my hotel. My run consisted of 5.66 miles of “urban trail” in 1:13 hours. This 12:59/mile pace was reasonable considering that I had to wait for long periods at numerous traffic lights along the route. I hope to repeat this run a few more times over the next days. It has a mix of street and park and people and noise and quiet and bustle and calm. I’d like to try early tomorrow morning with the sun rising.

With my miles logged and my run complete, I was thoroughly flat-lined. After showering, I lay down on the bed, and promptly fell asleep. I woke at 3:30am refreshed and ready for another day. But as you probably guessed, there is not much happening at that hour. Well, it did give me time to collect my thoughts and pray. Sometimes the “trail” leads us just where we need to be – at the feet of Jesus - listening.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” [Luke 10:38-42]

So, I’m not sure where your trail is heading, but I hope we meet some day. Lord willing, I will keep running these trails wherever they lead me, finding Him glorious and all-sufficient in every struggle, and sharing His joy with anyone I meet along the way. C.S. Lewis wrote, “You have never talked with a mere mortal.” I believe that every encounter is divine. These trails are special places to deepen our love and pursuit of Him. Let’s run with all our hearts, embrace the challenges, and tell our stories of hope to others along the trail. Maybe we can touch another eternal soul and help them home. Oh Friend, keep running hard and true because this running is worth our very lives – it is eternal.


Mel Arroz said...

Just following the links and checking things out from Idaho!

Life is good and getting better!


Henry said...

Thanks Greg for checking it out!

Abbey von Gohren said...

Sounds like a very different circuit than you're used to, but exciting. I love the mental image I have of you sitting and sipping in a tea shop in Shanghai.

Eternal running - yay. I'm not sure everyone would be as excited as we are, but it works for me.