After my experiences on Tuesday, I wrote a little poem about running Wutong Mountain through mist and rain as a gift to my students this week.
Rain on Wutong Mountain, Mist rising,
I run the green forest wet with joy.
It is Saturday. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, I had spent almost 4 hours traversing all over Wutong Mountain. During the week, I met someone who regularly runs Wutong. She had invited me to join her and a friend this morning. I was giddy with anticipation. We met at 5:30am in the lobby of my hotel and caught a taxi to Wutong Mountain. A short time later, we were standing at the archway marking the entry, and off we went. My companions led the way up the road, and then turned off to the right into the forest along a path I had not noticed earlier in the week. This direction led to many new twists and turns along new trails, and a spectacular view of a waterfall. Friends have a way of opening our eyes to new things.
We climbed the cut stone steps, old natural stone pathways, hopping numerous streams and roots, chasing our excitement for 3:44 hours, covering 7.95 miles, ascending 5777 and descending 5668 feet. Our faces were covered in smiles and laughter. Midway we stopped on a broad plaza (that I had crossed above earlier in the week). One of my companions woke a shopkeeper she knew and purchased orange juice for each of us as a reward for reaching this point. Each of us drank this with a very thankful heart. It was the perfect refreshment. As the hours and miles drifted past, we shared our mutual joys, struggles, and challenges as followers of Christ Jesus. We celebrated through our running and endurance, and we each shared that our joy seemed to grow deeper and richer – even in life's hard struggles. For me, it was wonderful to encounter two sisters in the Lord, to celebrate our shared faith, and to encourage each other along life's trail. At last, we completed our run, and my dear companions treated me to a fantastic noodles lunch in a favorite restaurant of theirs right in the village near Wutong. The noodles were made as I watched, and the meal was eaten as the shop owner watched. We loved the food. It was incredible! A shared run, a shared meal, and shared faith and love of God – this had truly been a memorable day.
"For a man's ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders (makes level) all his paths." [Proverbs 5:21]
Friend, perhaps we will share a meal of noodles in a small shop in a distant land. Perhaps we will share the challenge of dangerous trails just ahead. I'll be out there watching for you. My prayers will be covering your steps. So until we meet, run hard and run true.