The other day I went for a run at a near by park called Lapham Peak. I’ve been running on those trails a lot lately. I’ve been finding that I get lost in my runs, not geographically speaking, but lost in my thoughts and in the lovely sights. I started my run near ‘the fields,’ a place filled with gently rolling hills and grass trails. There are a lot of birds singing and a few occasional roaming deer. I got to the main area where the majority of the trails are and continued to run and found myself going up to ‘the peak’ and then up and down like a roller coaster on the backside of the peak. I ran past a few people as I made my way through the serpentine trails enjoying the changing colors of the leaves and the smell of fall. I found myself going through a few different sections of trail and eventually back to my car. I looked to see how far I ran and was shocked to see that I had done 10 miles in just an hour and a half. How did that go by so quick? And why was it so enjoyable? Deep down I knew the answer to be so simple.
I was wholly present, unhindered by the cares of the world, and in a desolate place.
Isn’t that what we all want in our lives? We hear of an ever-ensuing struggle in the Middle East over homelands in Iraq. We feel the struggle between brothers and sister in the streets of major and minor cities alike. We also see the damages done by earthquakes, monsoons, and hurricanes. We have this sense that something just isn’t quiet right in the world. But does that drive us to despair?
I often think about the nature of the world while I run. I consider whom I should vote for, what I should do to help my neighbor, or how to prioritize my time and money to be an effective and responsible human being. I don’t ever come up with an answer in my seemingly ‘zen-like’ runs. What I do realize is that there is one thing that I can do…and that is that I can find ‘shalom’ (peace) in my life and practice: the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that comes from the triune God as is known and passed down from the holy catholic and apostolic church, of whom Jesus is Lord and King.
Running for me is an exercise of submission in that I realize I’m not the fastest and strongest runner. I realize I haven’t read enough on the candidates voting tendencies or which local politician to vote for. I realize that I’m not as organized as I wish I could be. Most importantly, I realize I’m not in charge of the universe…and I don’t have to be. I’m submitting my ego to someone bigger.
There’s something about running on top of the wide world, whether it’s in the mountains of Peru, the Sinai desert, or the hills of the Kettle Moraine area. Those places don’t care if I’m smart or dumb, rich or poor, or what I do with my time. That forces me to realize I’m not as important we humans think we are.
Therein lies the key to feeling unhindered. If we realize we’re not the center of the universe, we then are able to be more joyful and accepting of the peace the comes from Jesus, king of the universe. When we see where we stand in the economy of God, we are then able to do and be the most good for we become conduits of the goodness and blessedness of God. In submitting we are able to ask questions that will lead us to know the truth. In submitting we loosen our grip on our lives and monetary possessions. In submitting we only focus on what’s in front of us, every rock, tree limb, and trail. Sometimes we trip, fall, and break bones. Only to get up and keep going.
That, then, shows that we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair (2 Cor. 4:8).
So where will I run to next? Well, wherever the wind blows next.
Until next time,