|One of the many Arbutus trees that grace the Island...and our running route.|
You don't have to be particularly good at trail running to gain immense benefit from just being outside on the many local trails and pathways. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, a really good run isn't to be measured in such variables as time, speed, calories expended, average heart rate etc. As much as all this data is fun to track (and I have for many, many years), it's just data. Having said that, the numbers make it easy to establish fitness and to graphically demonstrate if you are improving - or in need of a little more "commitment". :-)
For us though, the true value of trail running, and simply be-ing outside, is the way this activity refreshes the body, mind, and spirit.
By the very nature of our vocations, we both have opportunity to spend time with individuals who are struggling - for all kinds of reasons. Some folks we see during "office hours". Others, we may find the connection at the other end of the telephone line, sometimes late at night. We both feel humbled when folks entrust to us their stories - stories that are often filled with heartbreak and angst. Some have lived with immense personal challenges. Others struggle with illness - sometimes their own, sometimes a loved one's. Many live with uncertainty in the face of changing circumstances. Some struggle to be caregivers, never knowing if they are doing enough and fighting the guilt that seems to accompany the best, and even heroic, efforts. Some have nowhere to call "home" and no one to call "friend". Many look back on their lives and share stories of accumulated regret.
Of course, we want to "fix" everything, but we have learned that this is rarely possible. We can, however, listen. We have learned, over the years, that the gift of being "listened to" is a gift of immense value to receive. It is something we can all do. Certainly, we have all had those times when someone has taken the time to listen to our story. It is a priceless gift...and it is liberating. To be listened to is to be given the gift of refreshment and renewal.
I think that "listening" is fundamental to the spiritual life and a love and appreciation of the natural world "outside" is part of the necessary depth and breadth of the human experience. I love to meditate and contemplate while sharing a run along the deep forest, Island trails with someone I love very much. It is there, between the deep breaths of oxygenated air that we both feel the Creator is listening. In fact, in the solitude, and in such natural beauty, one might imagine that the whole universe is "listening".
That, for us, is a "spiritual practice", and it is one of many sources of refreshment and energy...for body, mind, and spirit. And, what is gained is available to share with others.
May you find such sources of deep refreshment...and perhaps share them with us here?