Lately I have been struggling with feeling overwhelmed and lonely as if the whole world was resting on my shoulders, and as these types of feelings seem to wax and wane like the ocean tides, yesterday was a spring tide. Many of these feelings center on my lack of understanding on religious topics that “everyone else” seems to except so easily. It’s amazing when you really try to ponder a word that is so over used in a religious sense and realize you have no idea what it even means. (Power is a good example of such a word.)
Last night I was talking with God (also called praying) about these frustrations and two answers came to me. The first was to let all the religious clutter fall away and just focus on what I know to be true. The image that came to my mind was literally allowing all the clutter to fall off a cliff and land in a broken heap at the bottom. What was left? Well it turns out, what was left was all that was important, which only made me feel a little better, since all that clutter is still down at the base of the cliff and I still don’t understand any of it, which makes me feel overwhelmed, burdened and isolated, as I stated above, but it was a good exercise in focusing on what is important.
The second answer was also about focus, and somewhat related. I needed to focus on what I do have (an amazing family for example) and stop focusing on things I don’t (any ability whatsoever to make friends for example). This can be summed up by the cliché but wise advice to be grateful for what you have.
So anyway, this is supposed to be about running so let me cut to the chase. I had these insights before going to bed last night and the next morning I woke up at 5:55am put on my running clothes and headed out the door still half asleep, like I do every day. The moment I stepped out the door today, I was greeted by a blazing red sunrise that was setting the sky on fire to the east. It was amazing. As I started my run (heading west then south) I kept turning to look back at the stunning view, assuming it would fade quickly away leaving the dull grey clouds above me. But it didn’t. Instead it grew and spread, mixing in sunbeams that I literally could see spreading and growing much like a tide of brilliant light bathing the Earth. One of my favorite things about running in the morning is being able to see the sunrise on occasion. This morning was a prime example.
Alas sunrises can’t stay and the colors started to fade so I stopped glancing behind me quite as much and noticed must to my surprise a full, bright rainbow spanning the sky to the southwest. Now in front of me I was able to watch this rainbow as I continued to head south, wondering for the first time at the symbology of the rainbow: God’s promise to Noah that he would not destroy humanity again in a flood. On a more personal note, the thought occurred to me that this rainbow was God’s way of saying “Everything is going to be alright.”
I turned east now, putting the rainbow behind me but was surprised that the sunrise was going for a second wind, blazing a yellow-orange that looked like it could be heralding in the second coming itself. The color was so much different than the earlier pink hues, but just as beautiful in a different way. When I looked behind me the rainbow’s southern leg was still visible through the trees, and seemed to have an arch of light radiating from it in a way I’d never seen before.
I was thrilled by the morning beauty I’d experienced so far. A beautiful sunrise is rare. A rainbow at six in the morning even more rare. Both in the same day was…hmmm…dare I say miraculous? Then it started to rain.
Now something you must know about me, is that my absolute favorite weather to run in is rain. I love the feeling of the drops hitting my body. They feel as if they wash the physical and emotional fatigue away as my feet hit the pavement and the water soaks into my clothing and skin. I have never understood people who use the excuse they can’t go running because of rain. I always want to yell at them. “Don’t you know you are missing a near euphoric experience?”
What a day to run. Sunrises, rainbows, and rain. I really couldn’t ask for anything better. As I headed north again, working to complete my loop, a little something nudged me. “Remember you are supposed to focus on what you have?” Well you have this. “Clearly someone loves you.”
Why do I run? Because sometimes it is in these moments when you push your physical limits that God makes your burdens feel lighter. And sometimes when you are out there all by yourself you realize you are not alone.