Thursday, March 31, 2011
Yesterday, on my way home from meetings in Olympia, I stopped off at Seaquest State Park for a late afternoon run. After four days of good, steady rain the trail promised to be a wet and sloppy mess. Does it make me strange that this is exactly why I wanted to stop and run there? Something about the adventure of careening through narrow muddy trails with the distinct possibility that I could slide off into oblivion made the park oddly alluring on that day.
I have a roughly 2-mile loop that I love to run through the trees and streams. It's a peaceful and quite respite from the world. On the second of these loops, I glanced up in time to spot a young deer on the trail ahead of me, who had already seen me and bounded effortlessly into the woods. I was immediately struck by this animal's ability to barrel straight into the densely wooded and overgrown underbrush without making even the slightest of sounds. Had I not seen him, I would never have been alerted to his presence. There was an amazing grace and agility to the deer that quickly reminded me I was the intruder on his home soil.
After my friend silently disappeared, I became painfully aware of the racket I was making. My size 13 Gore-Tex lined Nike Triax shoes, though carefully designed by the brain-trust down there in Beaverton, were like bulldozers in comparison to the deer. Anyone within a mile of me was aware of my presence. And in that moment, I felt very much the outsider who had stumbled into a place where the natural inhabitants moved about with grace that I lacked.
I pondered as I ran how this can often be a picture of my spiritual journey. I go to this place (God) of peace and security, running gratefully to Him. But so often I feel as though I am tromping around noisily in an arena where I don't belong. What is it about our faith, that no matter how long we have it, still feels strange and unfamiliar to us? I was reminded that faith and spirituality are not my natural language. Perhaps God intended them to be, but I have become so wrapped in the things of this world that the faith journey always feels a bit foreign.
And so I have to practice things like Lent. I have to work at prayer, and listening for God in Scripture. For how else will I discover the gentle grace of this place called "being with God"? Perhaps you find yourself often in this place as well- a place you long to go but where you perpetually feel as an outsider.
Take joy today knowing that the Father welcomes you into His presence, even if you tromp noisily in size 13 shoes.