Run no. 13 and 14 – Running without footprints


(Run 13 – Distance: 4.53 miles Time: 41’04” Passed without thought or incident – lucky for some?!)

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 41’43”

It was a good run. First one for over a week as I was away on holiday. During which time I enjoyed fine wine, good food, and even some top single malts. The bathroom scales gave an indication of a certain degree of damage done.

So today on with the running shoes and let’s try and push that needle backwards. It was ideal running conditions for me today; fine drizzle, sufficient to cool me down and to disguise the copious torrents of sweat falling down my empurpled face.

As I ran around Watermeads Country Park I took a deliberate pleasure in the lakes and trees. It struck me that I have been very lucky in that throughout my running life I have lived in places where I could run in the countryside. Every home I have lived in has been within a few minutes run of open country, or a country park. I haven’t had to run in an urban context, dodging pedestrians and being stared at by strangers. Today I was struck by just how lucky I have been in this.

I think the appreciation of the countryside, the fact of being surrounded by trees, plants and animals, does something very profound to human beings. I think we instinctively feel a desire for harmony with the earth. We respect those nomadic cultures who ‘walk softly on the earth’, who after centuries of living in a land have not scarred it or damaged it, but preserved it. They run their earthly course leaving no footprints behind.

Yesterday at evensong we read from the book of Job and this idea of harmony with the earth was magnificently evoked. In talking about God’s blessing on a person it says,

For you shall be in league with the stones of the field

and the wild animals will be at pace with you[1]

This verse expresses one of the ways in which God’s blessing is experienced – through being in harmony with the created order – both animate and inanimate.

In effect this is a re-establishment of the edenic harmony of the origins story. A story that could be paraphrased,

In the beginning God created two nudist vegans and put them in an garden

In this paradise they were fed with the fruit of the trees of the garden. Their work of developing and nurturing the garden was not an essential chore in order to provide food, but a joyful expression of their God-given creativity.

Sadly they rebelled against God and in that moment their relationship with God was broken,

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.[2]

Their relationship to each other was broken,

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.[3]

Their relationship to the created world was broken,

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.[4]

What human beings long for is merely a restoration of what was meant to be. We long for harmony with each other, we long for harmony with the Earth and we long for harmony with God (although we often don’t know how to name this deep longing within us).

It is interesting to see that those who walk closest to God often experience this harmony with the created world. In the bible we read that Daniel was unharmed when thrown into a lion pit and Elijah was fed by ravens (Blog). In hagiographic writings we read of saints that had unusually deep relationships with animals – Saint Kentigern was led to the site for a future monastery by a boar (Blog).

My enjoyment of running surrounded by nature is a shadowy reaching towards the ultimate harmony with the creation that I shall enjoy in glory – a foretaste, a hint, a glimpse of the glory that will be.

[1] Job 5 :23

[2] Genesis 3 :8 NIV

[3] Genesis 3:16b NIV

[4] Genesis 3 :17b NIV