Just a quick early afternoon check in (I never post much on weekends).
This morning, I woke up anxious about the election. I got up early, ninety minutes before dawn, to get ready for a long training run. Frankly, I'm a worrier. I worried about how long my fiancee and I will have to wait Tuesday morning when we go to vote together. I worried about whether my ballot will be counted. I worried about other people's ballots being counted. I worried about losing another heartbreaking election. I worried about daring to hope that "we" might win this one. I worried about how my friends and family members who are more emotionally invested in all this than I will react to victory -- or defeat.
And then we went on our run. Today's run is a route we do once a season, and without question, this one's my favorite. It's from Eaton Canyon Park to the top of Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriels; round-trip, it's almost exactly 20 miles. The tough part is the climb up -- 9 miles of it is a steady up-hill journey, taking you to the summit at 5800 feet. The descent is tough too -- lots of "technical running" over boulders and rocks and debris left by last week's big storm. It's a three and a half hour round trip (with plenty of stops for refueling).
My favorite runs are always uphill. Spiritually, something in my body and my soul rejoices at the idea of "up". Running up a mountain always strikes me as the perfect image for one's own individual climb towards God. Today, as I ran with my friends, I found that I didn't want to talk as much as I usually do. (Big surprise: Hugo is normally a chatterbox on long trail runs.) I wanted to breathe the mountain air (which was quite crisp as we climbed towards the mile-high marker); I wanted to hear the birds, I wanted to be alone with my heart pounding in my ears and with God. Under my breath, I muttered something I only say on very long, difficult runs: "I'm coming to see you, Lord, I'm coming to see you." The God I worship is everywhere, not just mountaintops, but I am rarely more conscious of His presence than while going up His hills.
Sometimes, I like to imagine that Jesus is running alongside me. No, he's not in a robe and sandals -- he has all the right gear for a long outing on the trail. (I have no idea whether, like me, He wears New Balance --- or Asics, Saucony, Montrail, or Nike. Actually, I'm almost positive he doesn't wear Nike.) And He doesn't talk much. He just keeps my pace, saying "come with me, Hugo, come with me." Sometimes, like this morning, I feel him so acutely I have to stop and wipe my eyes because I'm tearing up from emotion. Today, he was with me for a long time.
The runner is home from the hill. The runner is ready for a nap. I still care about the election, but whether it be the endorphins, the pain, the exhaustion, or Christ on the mountain, I am far, far more at peace with whatever happens Tuesday than I was eight short hours ago. For those who know me who think I'm neurotic and high-strung: first of all, you're right. And second of all, you should have seen me before I came to Christ and before I started trail running!