I’m not pretending that any deity gives me sports scores or tells me to start a cult but I do have process of putting questions to the universe and waiting for answers to appear in my head. Some would call it subconscious information processing, others meditation, and still others prayer. Under various names most people have some way of doing this by letting go of the questions and somehow letting the answers come to them. I find it works better to anthropomorphize it and let the information come from someone somewhere else even if they are coming from within. At least that’s how I explain the benefit of prayer without delving into theology. Whether I believe in God is a question I don’t know how to answer. But I do ask Him for advice and sometimes even listen for answers.
A friend told me today about her experience listening to God’s instructions and having to be prepared to follow through once her prayer practice shows the path. This confronted and challenged me because I haven’t had a consistent practice in my life lately. I haven’t given myself the opportunity nor created the space in which I can hear that inner voice, and because of that I have been suffering emotionally, mentally, and physically.
One of the best ways for me to open my mind to those sorts of insights is running. I generally think it’s trite or facile when I hear someone describe an activity as their mediation. «Golf is my meditation,» or «hiking through nature is my prayer» ring somewhat hollow with me. It usually sounds like cop-out. Yet I cannot deny there is meditative aspect to running.
Running, at least for me, an active form of the most basic «God question» there is: who am I? While what I can do is not all of who I am, it is a major component. Not only is running a test of ability, it is a means of increasing ability. Unfortunately, when most people regard spirituality it is something very passive. To be fair, it may only be when people talk about spirituality that the passive aspects get the attention. But like Jacob with the angel the human spirit must assert itself fiercely in order to receive the blessing.
Running provides the ground on which I can wrestle those inner angels and demons. It forces me to be present with my own potential and my own weakness. It tells me some part of who I am. Against that background the right path rises and becomes clear. Problems solve themselves and solutions make themselves apparent.
Today’s five miles did not bring any revelations. No big insights or realizations. It was a pilgrimage not to a physical location (though I did reach my goal: the Bay Bridge) but to a state of being where audience with my inner voice is possible. That audience doesn’t always yield immediate answers, but it gives a chance for the questions to breathe. «Subconscious information processing» it may be, but it’s a process that is more vital and precious than that label lets on — it commands description in reverent terms. It’s awesome and necessary and for lack of a better word, holy. Running is my way to the place where God can be heard.