22 February 2011

Footprints in the Snow

I've mentioned several times how cool it is to run in the snow in my Vibrams.  The sight of my own (nearly) bare footprints in the snow still makes me smile and feel more deeply alive.  During my last run, I came across two deer (a doe and her fawn).  They were about 1/4 mile ahead of me.  I watched them scamper along the road for a while in front of me before bounding across a snowy field that's part of a wildlife refuge.  Seeing my footprints alongside their hoof marks was really neat.  It made me think a little bit about my relationship to nature and our place as human beings in the world.  My footprints next to theirs reminded me that in some ways I'm their kin, a fellow creature on this earth, but seeing them effortlessly leave the road and leap through the fields made me also remember how different I am from them.  Leaving my shoes behind had drawn me a little closer to them, but there's still a line between me and them that feels almost holy.  I can feel close to nature, but not quite fully a part of it.  As a person of faith, this points to my belief that human beings have a special place on this earth: a little higher than the other creatures, but a little lower than the angels.  We occupy the space between the natural and the supernatural.  We have some knowledge of both, but cannot fully grasp either of them.  I think that's why there was a part of me that was firmly rooted on the road and a part of me that longed to leap out into the field with the deer.  That line between the sacred and the profane, between heaven and earth, became a bit blurry for a moment.  Somehow my footprints in the snow felt both natural and alien.  I sensed I am a part of this world and yet a stranger to it.  I think there's grace in that, and an opportunity to see ourselves as we really are...all in one footprint:

12 February 2011

Warmer Wind

A band called Low Stars put out an album several years ago with a track titled "Warmer Wind."  The chorus goes, "There's a warmer wind and I can feel it, calling me again.  I'm moving on."  While the song is about moving on from one relationship to another, I thought of it today as I ran outside for the first time in several months.  A temperature of 28 degrees and a windchill of 17 might not sound warm to you, but it felt balmy compared to the bitter cold we've had for most of this winter.  Most importantly to me, it meant that it was warm enough to get out and get a few miles in.  My running shoes were calling me again, so I was moving on outside for a quick 2.5 mile run.

It felt good to run again.  I took it easy for the most part.  I could tell my conditioning is a little lacking right now, but that's what I expected.  I was more winded than usual, even with a slower pace.  Most importantly, though, I came back with no pain.  I can't describe how amazing that is, especially when my experience up til this last year with running was one filled with knee pain, back pain, chest pain, etc.  It's simply wonderful to go run and feel like it's something my body was built to do, rather than something I'm punishing my body with.  Sure, I tax my muscles and endurance, but it feels like I'm doing it in a natural way that my body can tolerate.  I'm not fighting my body, I'm truly exercising it. 

I've also had a few more good experiences with cross country skiing lately.  I was invited to go along with a group of people to their farm to ski some trails they have back around their hunting cabin.  It is a really beautiful place and it made me feel good to know that they thought I had improved enough to go with them.  I only fell three times (once on purpose), and kept up with them pretty well.  I had a great time and they all said I did really well for being so new to it.  I hope I can get out a few more times before the snow is gone. 

I don't have much more to add right now, oddly enough.  No profound revelations or deep thoughts.  I'm just happy to do something I love again.  I hope these warmer winds are here to stay for a while!