It’s been almost a year – a long while, a longer journey, when I wrote a letter to my friend Preston about a run I went on. In that post, I wondered about how God is glorious. How God gets right near us, and asks us, “What are you doing here, Hilary?” and how on that particular run I responded, arms flung wide in front of people passing me by, “I’m here for You.”
It’s been a winding road since that blog post, since that run. When I stepped onto the trail yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t feel the glory. I willed myself to praise Him – to say thank you for sun and warmth, to sing out next to birds and crickets, to imagine that all the beauty, it is a sign of the brightness. Of the light.
But I didn’t really want to do it, and so I gave way to a smaller heart and even smaller thoughts. All of this is unfair, you know, God.
I don’t see your plan for me.
What happened to that promise I made you all those months ago?
I might have said thank you to God, but I think my heart said a lot more of, but still…
I felt, suddenly, how I must be caught in the thicket of my own heart, tangled in its desire, lost in its fear. I felt the way it must look to God: me chasing around after thoughts, trying to follow them to their logical or beautiful conclusion, following plans until they disappear back beyond my horizon line, running in circles hoping that I’d free myself of the confusion and the mess.
And His gift to me was a run. A real, physical, sweaty, sun-beaming down on my oh-so-pale skin run. A run behind the woods I’ve become almost so familiar with I miss how extraordinarily beautiful they are. A run around the ponds, past the water, past the white ducks, past the trembling, tentative green leaves. A run up hills and over tree stumps. A run that asked me to pour out my real physical effort, to strive and challenge, to waste no more breath on thoughts but instead drink in the oxygen for the basic, beautiful purpose of breathing.
His gift was that I went on a run. And as I ran, my voice quieted. I didn’t have the physical breath to complain… I couldn’t tell Him just what I think of this, just what I worry about, just what He hasn’t answered and how it’s been year and didn’t you promise me that if I became yours I would have… and do… and be understood…
I went on a run that put real ache in my muscles and real air in my lungs. It made everything physical again, and I heard that it is a gift to have bodies. A gift, to get tired and sweaty. A gift, to be pushing yourself up a long hill breathing in the scent of almost spring, a gift that all we think, all we yearn for, lives inside a body. A body that can run. A body that can carry me when I caught in the thicket of my heart.
Yesterday, my body could sing louder praise than my words. Yesterday, it was my muscles and lungs that held onto His promises far more than anything I could think or feel or speak.
And His gift was that I went running.