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 28, 2010

Deep Fragrance, Mud, and Wonder

A little over a week ago I left my home at 1:18 in the afternoon and headed for Birch Island Park. I worked some of my favorite hills, crossing the crusty ice and snow, and finding my rhythm along the afternoon trails - feeling the edge of winter in the cold air, the freeing, fresh atmosphere of the day. Covering 6.40 miles in 1:41 hours, I ascended 1059 feet and descended 1055. The moment seemed sacred and my heart was drawn to consider this mystery. Are these places so rich with His glory that they are holy places? I wonder.

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. [Psalm 27:4]

A few days later I hit the trail in Purgatory Park at 6:55am. Predawn, cold, and very quiet. I circuited the park a number of times and accumulated 10.05 miles in 2:17 hours, ascending 1277 feet and descending 1301. It was a good, solid workout, and yet the echoes of my previous run were resonating in my heart and mind. I could hear each footfall and felt the miles wind out before me. I had as my original objective a 5-7 mile effort, but was caught in the moment, the place and sense that these were special times reserved for Him. How could I so easily separate myself from the glory and wonder? I could not, and so I ran on. It was a good run, and in a way I could gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. As I meditated on these simple things it was like inquiring in His temple. I loved this run and this place. But there were more trails ahead.

It was a few days later that I landed in Seattle WA, checked into a hotel, and headed immediately to Saint Edwards State Park. I had visited this park before, and knew I was in for a treat. It was 3:39pm, and I was hungry for trails and a strong workout, and off I went. It took me 2:14 hours to cover 7.25 miles, ascending 3609 feet and descending 3620. Yes, there were some mighty nice hills involved and I was loving it! This was the primary reason I selected this park. In Saint Edwards I ran among the old growth forests, breathing in the deep fragrance of woodlands, of ferns and moss and soil. The temperature was mid 50s. Some areas needed careful navigation. Recent rains had turned steep descents muddy and very slick. I managed to avoid a crash and left the trails deeply refreshed and satisfied with the intensity. It was very good. In fact, it is always good to dig deep within ourselves, to push beyond the limits we think we have and to find new levels of endurance and strength. Trails have taught me many things. But maybe it’s not the trails as much as my companion along the trails. I am never alone. The beautiful trails and woodlands are simply the handiwork of my Creator. As I run these foot paths and witness the continuing displays of wonder, I just see the profound testimony of His continuing faithfulness and His love of beauty. This is all around me. It is this display of His greatness and glory that carries me along, strengthens me along the way, and brings me to each trail’s end. Running the trails gives me a deep sense of gratitude. My heart seems larger each time I run. This is why I feel compelled to run the distance, because I am running as a simple testimony to Him. Will I see you down the trail? We could run together into His breathtaking wonders holding to our course with the strength that He supplies. I’ll be watching for you. Until then, run hard and run true, my friend.

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