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, September 19, 2009

Just He and I Along the Trail

After Bangalore I traveled to Pune India. I did not see any reasonable places to run outside, so decided to continue my running in the hotel on a treadmill. I made two treadmill runs over the next week, and have concluded that treadmills are the extreme of urban trail running. The only trail is by one’s own invention. There is no natural beauty except for perhaps a limited, obscured view from a window. There are no serendipitous adventures or surprise vistas along the way except that which derives from within your own thoughts. And there is that moving mat-thingy at my feet that I must STAY ON, or crash badly somewhere behind me. No, don’t turn around! You will lose your balance and slip off. Stay focused! Oh, how far can I go on one of these? How long can I remain so foot-focused without letting my mind wander? On the trails I often let my mind drift in endless directions, but not here, not today. Focus. Just for the record, I had previously run 8 miles on a treadmill ONCE in some faraway hotel a while back. But on Sunday, 6 September, I ran 20K (12.43 miles). It took me 2:26 hours of intense concentration. The following Wednesday I cross-trained on an elliptical with other activities, and Thursday I ran another 10K (6.21 miles) in 1:09 hours adding some cross-training. But I’ve seen enough of treadmills for a while. I was hungry for real trails – the dirt and sky and sun, natural breezes and sounds of birds and crickets in the air. It was time to return to home.

On Monday, 14 September at 7:57am, I hit the trail near my home with great eagerness. I planned a familiar route weaving a 16.63 mile loop through several neighboring communities. It took me 3:29 hours as I plodded out a 12:36 per mile pace. I could say that I was savoring the moment, but the truth is that I’m just not that interested in being fast. I simply enjoy the running even when it’s hard and long. My watch says there was 2386 feet ascending and 2457 descending. No matter; I was just loving the experience of a real trail. My tunes were not working so I stuffed the ipod and determined to enjoy the natural sounds along the way. It was nice to be hitting the trails again. I could feel my mind wandering. It was a good feeling.

I set out again yesterday, Friday, 18 September at 2:23pm under clear skies and 83F (28C) looking to build on my run earlier in the week. I followed basically the same route as a few days before, yet not taking a construction detour and not looping as I passed through Purgatory Park. By then I was flat-lining and pushing heat exhaustion, so I headed for home. I logged 14.53 miles at a pace of 12:25 per mile. It took me 3:00 hours. Ah, the joys of the run! Pushing our limits, soaking up divine grace along the way, spectators to immeasurable beauty wild loveliness in creation, seeing God’s fingerprints across His handiwork, the trees, the sky, the sounds, the glory, and finding our help as we accept the challenge of running long, going the distance, embracing a solitude with Him. These runs of late have been so good for my heart; my spirit leaps to think of these times with Him along the way. Oh, these particular trails are just good running trails. But they tease me to more. They call me to listen with greater care to His voice, watch with more studied eyes His glories all around me. I know I’ve been missing so much. I can’t wait for my next run to reach a little higher and linger longer with Him. Just He and I along the trail; yes, I love to run long. Maybe we will meet someday and share the things we’ve learned. Until then, my friend, run hard and true. He’s listening.

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