Where God speaks

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.

One Reply to “Where God speaks”

  1. Where God Speaks

    Thank you for this, Steve. Inter­est­ing and thought pro­vok­ing. I used to feel the same way about run­ning, though nev­er put it into words. I no longer run, but I do bicy­cle, and that seems to have the poten­tial for sim­i­lar mus­ings. Except that sev­er­al years ago, I became dis­en­chant­ed with bik­ing alone, so now I almost always ride with oth­er peo­ple. We talk; they talk, I lis­ten. No more med­i­ta­tion or lis­ten­ing to inner voic­es or even much learn­ing about myself — except occa­sion­al­ly when the length, dif­fi­cul­ty or dura­tion of a ride are a stretch for me.  Your post spurs me to ask why I don’t ride alone and what oth­er soli­tary activ­i­ties do — or would — pro­vide that qui­et time alone with one­self and the uni­verse or God or what­ev­er you want to call It/Him/Her.

    Your com­ments about cre­at­ing the space and giv­ing your­self the oppor­tu­ni­ty and about spir­i­tu­al­i­ty not being pas­sive are also eye-open­ing and worth consideration.

    So, thanks!

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