Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why I run

A friend of mine had asked me a while back why I like to run.  After thinking about it for a moment, I realized that I wasn't able to answer adequately.  Ever since then I've been trying to find words to describe why I enjoy running.  I mean, running makes me feel good, but why?  Why does it make me feel good?  This was not so easy to answer.  Well two weekends ago I had gone on a 10-mile run and it was then that I was able to formulate an answer to that question.

When I run I feel most at peace.  I love being outside and when I run I feel the most connected to God.  (Although after all these years of doing it, I finally realized that was what I was feeling)  As I run on a trail and pass by the different trees and flowers and grass I take in all the different sights, smells and sounds of nature around me.  The different colors around me in nature as well as the different surprises I see along the way are never the same from run to run.  I think to myself, how can I get bored on a run when there is so much to beauty take in?  God made this for us to enjoy and so often we are speeding by both literally and figuratively.

I hear my breathing and from it's slow, steady rhythm I start to calm my racing thoughts.  I feel so alive and thankful that I have my legs to carry me, my arms to pump in rhythm with my legs, my lungs to breath in the fresh air and my ears and eyes to hear and see all things.  Everything working together perfectly.  On some runs I do a lot of thinking, while on other runs I don't want to think.  But the beauty of it is, I alone, can choose.  These runs are my brief adventures.

I spend time thinking about these wonderful gifts that the Lord has given us to enjoy and I am so thankful for them.  Thank you for this breeze.  Thank you for the river I run next to.  Thank you for the different shades of green that I see.  Thank you for blessing me with such a loving husband.  Thank you for giving us two beautiful boys.  It feels good to be alive.

I took some pictures of this particular run to try and capture some of the things that I see and experience.

This is the entrance to the trail I usually run.  It's a mile in no shade to get to this point.  My first gratitude, to enter the shade of the trees.

It's peaceful to be here.  The shade provided by the trees is a welcome gift.  On the left of the trail is the Brandwine River and I can hear the water flowing as I run along side of it.  I wonder who is faster, me or the flowing water? :)  Picture this same trail on a snowy winter day.

These next two pictures are a thwarted attempt of me exploring beyond.  The trail is going to be extended, but must have JUST been fenced off.  The week prior, I had discovered this and ventured out on the trail a bit.  But alas, it is now closed off...

...so I head up this hill as I saw a mountain biker ride up here.

And I come across this!  Another path that is an entrance to the state park.

After a mile of being under trees it opens up to this.  The photo is deceiving, but this is a HILL.  And up ahead is the dam for Marsh Creek.  On the other side is Marsh Creek Lake.

At the top of the hill and the dam.  Having a look at where I've been.  See the water below?  That's from the dam.

And when I look to the right I am presented with this!  Marsh Creek Lake and some sail boats.  All created by the very dam that I am standing on and just ran up.

And so now on to the "trail running" part of the adventure.  I see at the top of the dam, is a trail.  Obviously used by mountain bikers.  So I continue on with my run, and here are some pictures of the trail I ran on.

I was running around the lake.  And was but a few feet from the water.  Passed a few bikers along the way too.

Do the people in the sail boats see me?

Decisions, decisions..do I take the left path or the right path?

A secret spot in the lake.

This is as far as I went.  I turned around from this point and went back the way I came.  Put on my headphones and listened to some Pearl Jam, Alive.

So this is just one of my runs, my adventures, my time with the Lord, my time to recharge and be better for it.  And this is why I run.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Tree with 9 Lives

Remember the post back in May about the tree we planted for earth day?  Well the little Silky Dogwood was doing just fine until I started meddling with it.  About a month back I was cutting the grass and I decided to weed around the screen that we put around the tree sapling.  So, I removed the screen and proceeded to trim around it.  As I was doing trimming around it no sooner was I thinking, "I really need to be careful not to wack it", when sure enough - wack!  Little tree sapling was no more.

I was so angry for doing that I yelled and stomped around the yard a bit thinking...what am I going to tell Matt?  This is his tree that he brought home from school for us to plant, and here I am having to fuss with it.  Thoughts started running through my head such as going out to the nursery and replacing it without him knowing to just sticking it back in the ground and seeing what happened rushed through my mind.  After a few minutes of looking at the little tree, I walked away from the scene of the crime with my head hung low.

Finally, I brought the evidence into the house and set it on the kitchen counter.  I was not really sure what I was going to do about it, but I knew I couldn't just throw it away.  After a while, I thought, I'll just put it in a cup of water and set it on the window sill like I do any other cutting.  Who knows, maybe it will hang in there a bit?  I then went back outside and cleaned up the other half of the sapling by cleaning off the tip where it was wacked off.  I watered it and put the cage around it again just pretending that nothing ever happened.

That evening, I realized that I had to tell Matt about the accident.  I told him that maybe we could go out and replace it with the very same type of dogwood.  He responded that this was a "special tree that his teacher bought for him."  Ouch...that hurt.

And so we waited....

About a week or two later, when I was cutting the grass again, I glanced down at the little tree (twig sticking out of the ground) to find that..what?...was there some new growth on it?!  Do my eyes deceive me?  I stopped the mower to take a closer look, and sure enough...one, two, three little buds forcing their way through the remains of the sapling.  A smile came over me and I was glad to tell Matt the news.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, the other half of the sapling remain in the cup on the window sill.  I was expecting leaves to start curling up and dropping one by one, but yet, it never happened.  There is was, perched on the sill looking just as it did the day I attacked it with the trimmer....but wait...was that a new bud starting to grow at the tip?  No...it couldn't be.

A few days later I noticed that the water in the cup was getting low, so I decided to fill it up a bit, after all, if it wasn't giving up, then I sure wasn't going to either.  As I put the cup under the faucet, I noticed what looked like new roots forming at the base of the sapling.  Upon closer inspection, it was indeed 2 or three new roots emerging from it!  I couldn't believe it!  I mean, I can understand the half outside re-growing as it was still alive with it's young root system in place, but sticking a "twig" in a cup of water?  No way!  But sure enough it was still growing.  Here I thought I had killed Matt's Earth Day tree that he had brought home from school only to find that I have created two new trees.  I was and am ecstatic and couldn't wait to tell Matt the news.

So this story has a happy ending and a lesson learned for me as well.   I can't help but think of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid saying, "tree have strong root".  And this little tree does indeed.