Were there, below, a spot of holy ground
Where from distress a refuge might be found,
And solitude prepare the soul for heaven;
Sure, nature’s God that spot to man had given
Where falls the purple morning far and wide
In flakes of light upon the mountain side;
Where with loud voice the power of water shakes
The leafy wood, or sleeps in quiet lakes.
– From William Wordsworth, “Descriptive Sketches”
The most important reason that I continue to run is that I am overwhelmed on a regular basis by what I see when I am outdoors. When moving at a runner’s pace, creation takes precedence in my senses. I notice everything: the crisp smell of the early morning air, the hard angle of the morning sun, the dew still dripping from the leaves, and the anticipation that seems inherent in every little thing.
Most of us are accustomed to moving through God’s creation without noticing it. At 70 MPH, trees become a blur instead of a wonder. The sound of a bird’s sonata or the rythmic chirp of the crickets is impossible to hear when we are locked in the car with the windows up. Eventually, it becomes easy to forget that we are living in a world not of our own making!
So I run to get in touch with creation because it was made to help me see the Creator.
One late afternoon during an especially long run, I was chased by a huge horsefly that was convinced I was a threat. It came at me aggressively three or four times before I realized that I was going to have to run extremely fast before I would escape, swatting like a madman the entire way. I was on mile six of an eight mile run, so I had very little energy left for a sprint. However, my panic provided the necessary adrenaline for an eventual escape.
This episode with the horsefly was a reminder to me that I don’t control creation. I’m a part of a sometimes chaotic eco-system that doesn’t account for my distain for horseflies. As I run outdoors, it becomes clear again that I am part of something bigger than myself. Every sound and every sight tells me that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”*