What It Means to Run with Faith

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 “I have learned that track doesn’t define me. My faith defines me. I’m running because I have been blessed with a gift.” –
Allyson Felix

Ten years ago when I started running seriously, I would never have imagined it becoming so intricately woven into the fabric of my life that not a day goes by when I either don’t run or think about running.  Back then, my future mapped out looked pretty simple: humanitarian work, writing at some level, and travel and adventure on the side.  The New York City Marathon was to be a bucket list event among a host of others.  Today, I remember it as the running event of a lifetime that inspired many others.

I recall completing my first half-marathon and the heady feeling that ensued, but I really didn’t think it would transform into the passion for running that it is today.  Life often hits you with nice surprises like that.  Eight years ago when I moved to the united States, I moved with a ton of baggage by which I don’t don’t mean suitcases; rather, my issues and a ton of issues on top.  In hindsight, running was my saving grace. If you have ever made a major change in life, then you can attest to the life transforming event it is.  Because I was in a new environment, where a lot was also new to me, I had to find something that was at once comforting and familiar, but which gave me the opportunity to lose myself and not focus on the uncertainties I was faced with.  Enter running – my saving grace – it became my outlet, my escape, my connection, my mode of survival.

Running, I discovered peace, beauty, tranquility, inspiration, challenge and a profound sense of self.  Conversely, my future loomed, a blank, uncertain canvas.  Many years, runs and races later have added splashes of color and slowly an image is breaking forth.  The process has been painstaking: deliberate and tough, but extremely instructional and not a journey I could have completed without my faith.  Daily, those runs have taught me that I do not, nor have I ever, run alone.  I am immersed in the love of God; whether evident in the trickle of a running stream or the mad rush of a waterfall, the burst of sunrise or the quiet outrageous sunset; He runs with me.  In the white mass of winter or the first signs of spring, the solitary morning run or the packed course filled with runners, every step I take, I take with Him.  He surrounds me with His presence, covers me with His protection, enfolds me in His love and when the going gets tough, armors me with His strength.  He is the wind at my back, the lift in my legs and the power in my stride.

12 Miles of Cherry Blossoms

imageA day ago I did a 12 mile easy run in beautiful Central Park. Now Central Park is my running home and has been for about 3 years so it’s no big deal that I run there or at least it shouldn’t be, except that it is so gloriously pretty at this time of year that I think it a runner’s dream.  Sure enough I’ve taken it for granted that I run here all the time and oftentimes feel the need to get out and explore new territory. This is common to any runner who runs a particular route regularly; monotony sets in and will only be cured by venturing out to discover new routes.

imageIt just so happens though, that I cannot recall ever having seen the park so alive; blossoming Magnolias and Cherry Blossoms lines the various trails and main route while the ponds and reservoir shimmer with the glint of sunshine skimming the water surface. Fluttering leaves and blossoms falling like snow are ably assisted by a gusty breeze that propels you along the paths in the company of chirps and tweets which are music to the ears amid a cacophony of other sounds that permeate the air.  The various sporting fields, playground and picnic areas are teeming with families, pets, dancers, exercise groups, and everywhere you turn, runners, walkers, cyclists and those on roller blades.

imageI am enchanted by this picturesque and artistic scene playing out in full color before me. Completely under its spell, I don’t feel the pressures of the world around me. Even the fast pace of the city slows down here or maybe it’s being expelled in a more fun way but it seems miles away from the hustle and bustle that is Times Square..when in fact Times Square is only blocks away. It’s as surreal as it is real. I barely notice that it’s getting later or that my run is just about up, I’ve been so wrapped up in taking it all in.. this right here is life, I tell myself, this is what it’s all about. These moments that one is able to steal away; it is here you find inspiration and rejuvenation, here that you make connections, enjoy God’s beautiful work of art, find inner peace and strength, even love is possible here. Everything is.

I found these beautiful pics on the web. I love it!
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Spring in Central Parkimage

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