I voluntarily got up at 4 today….long silence as you give me that look ….ok, I didn\’t know what I wanted to do today, but if I get up early, it leaves my options open.
I sat down first for spiritual study and meditation. Wow, I discovered some strong feelings and gave these to my Higher Power. At 6 I lifted weights and at 6:30 bundled up for a 2 hour run.
It was 15F (maybe about -10C), a 20+mph north wind, and just an inkling in the south eastern horizon that the sun would come up today. I live on the south end of town. I decided to run north through town and around a loop in the fields north of town, then back. After about 15 minutes, I have the front of my jacket and three layers of fleece half unzipped as I am warm enough and I want to let out the moisture.
On Sunday in a small town, hardly anyone is up. Four old ladies in a Prius stop to ask me where they can get breakfast. Clearly they are not from here and we have no quaint diners. I send them to the grocery store which has a breakfast of sorts in their deli.
After about 40 minutes, I get to the top of the hill at the very north of town and get blasted directly by the wind. I snap up my hood and turn west on a dirt road through the fields. The sunrise is quite spectacular. I pass an elderly horse in a barren field; he has no windbreak.
Just before starting this run, I heard an interview on NPR with M. T. Anderson who wrote \”The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.\” It sounds like a creative book. I just started reading Barak Obama\’s book \”The Audacity of Hope\” last night. Mr. Obama seems to have thought deeply and identified the principles of our culture. I start to wonder about my own life, \”The Astonishing and Audacious Life of Spirit Flower.\” Is it astonishing? Do I have values? I’m about to turn 50 years old. What do I stand for? So many things that I’ve tried have gone by the wayside. What has endured the test of time and can stand as my life’s foundation? As I remember some of my childhood images, I come up with the following opening line for my biography: \”Spirit Flower\’s life was defined by long distance running and spirituality.\” That is, running and spirituality make me a full spectrum contemplative; and contemplation is my principle value.
A value is a principle or a quality considered worthwhile (akin to purpose). My value to others, or humanity in general, relates to whether others consider me to have worth in usefulness. Within my own heart, I must consider my life to have worthwhile qualities. Not everyone needs this; but I would kill myself without it. If my efforts at living result in others considering me valuable; that is secondary. I struggle with this issue a lot because I compare myself to others who do have fancy titles and identifiable purposes.
My life is defined by long distance running and spirituality. These are indispensable and have been my modus operandi since early teens. Other than running and praying, I spend my time earning money at my job, and worrying about my running and praying plans. I have as few social entanglements as possible. My life as a spiritual seeker and athlete appears incredibly selfish. Yet, I pursue it with an irrepressible type of conviction which seems to come from my soul; and there are people who value me. Therefore, I must assume that I have values and I am valuable, despite appearances. My value is not tangible; but it can be known.
I have value and purpose. How do I know? These can be seen if you consider me a living icon. An icon is an enduring symbol. A religious icon is an enduring symbol of the Gospel and the life of Jesus Christ. I am an icon for how to be spiritual and be an athlete; as a way of life. These are opposite ends of the scale, but they provide a life of thoughtful contemplation beyond the solely material way of life. They both aim at higher consciousness and human transformation. These intangibles are my personal concerns.
People see me and say they admire my spirituality. People come up and ask about running, or my other health practices. I am available to be seen in the world and I am connected metaphysically to all mankind. There are Japanese contemplative monks that run ultra-marathons. There are ultra-marathoners who discover God in the process of a 100 mile race. I am a contemplative in the world who trains as an athlete. Spirituality is approached as training and running is approached as contemplation. Every mile run or weight lifted is a meditation. Every meditation is building spiritual endurance and strength. Every time I go out in the world, someone observes something about one or the other of these practices; hence, I am an icon. People are always enriched in some way; perhaps astonishment, perhaps audacious hope, but their soul will put it into action for them.