As a very serious young girl with a need for logic and reasoning - I had an exceptionally hard time accepting the rules of my church. I could never make sense of what I was supposed to take away from my time spent there - should I be afraid of God? Should I be ashamed of my mistakes? I could not get behind an institution that seemed to make so many judgments - and most importantly - I did not personally feel a love from the church or its rules. I didn't leave feeling like a better person or like I knew myself or God any better. It actually made me feel a lot of confusion and anger towards organized religion.
The fact that I stopped going to a church does not mean that I don't believe in God. I would argue that I have an extremely strong connection to God - and everything that falls under the umbrella of "life." The only rule I live by is to be honest, fair and kind to all things. Good choices will follow.
I seek out time with God in nature rather than within the walls of a church. This is where running comes in. Running is my church. It has become my time to reflect, to meditate on my life - to seek out that "zen" moment where everything is a bit hazy accept my thoughts, my footfalls on a path and the rhythm of my breathing - a harmonized connection of mind, body and nature. It is healing and necessary for me.
God is in the trees.
That day, I felt a connection with nature and God and life that I am always trying to replicate - and I am often able to do so while running. I have found that as long as I am paying attention to the details in my surroundings, I'm able to have a similarly overwhelming experience - where I can find myself in absolute amazement at both the simplicity and complexity of life. Running allows me to experience MORE of those moments. You just see MORE. You cover MORE ground. I always think about the beautiful details that I'm passing when I'm in a car - how much did I NOT experience because I'm passing it by for the sake of modern efficiency? Running forces us to take our time, to use our senses and to participate in a natural world that we are not separate from but we are an integral part of. When my life feels chaotic, my solution is to put on my running shoes and head to the woods.
To the woods.
When I've had this conversation before, people have written it off as a runner's high. Crazy talk. So what? I don't think it matters if its a runner's high as long as I have a time to feel a part of something much greater than myself - as long as I am able to appreciate the beauty and structure of life - as long as it helps me to lead a healthy, happy and thoughtful experience. And let's not forget: just the ability to run - to push our bodies through this rigorous activity - is an incredible gift and a testament to our amazing design.
What about you? Do you feel a greater connection to yourself, to life, to God when you are running?