“It is a record, first of all, of ecstatic discovery. Ascetism is a classic preparation for pleasure, and the lonely vigil of Muir’s earlier life, far from dulling his senses, had trained them to savor every subtle facet of Yosemite’s beauty. Most visitors to the valley had been principally transfixed by its grand perspectives and sublime views; Muir took equal pleasure in its microcosms and inconspicuous inhabitants. Beauty, in his eyes, like divinity, was fractal: it was present at every scale of the extraordinary Sierran landscape, from tiny lichens to lordly sequoias.”
–Introduction to John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra” pp. XXV
This quote really struck me the other day as I was sitting outside reading the introduction to this book. I had been turned on to this book by Eugene Peterson’s book Take and Read: Spiritual Reading: An Annotated List where he recommends Muir’s account of his first summer in the Sierras as a must read.
I have been thinking about the idea of ascetism as preparing one for pleasure, and rather than dulling one’s senses, actually helping one take in the subtleties of life around them. This is what I find in running. Last October I ran my first marathon in Chicago and was instantly addicted. So I ran the Los Angeles, Marathon in March. And now I’m preparing for the Long Beach Marathon this upcoming October.
Nothing has opened my eyes to the daily life around me than running. It’s amazing what I see around me when I go out for a run. Running has opened my eyes to the amazing beauty of the city that my wife and I live in, Pasadena, CA.
Something about the ascetic nature of running and the discipline it takes to train has given me new eyes. I have been able to see the beauty of the mountains around me; the wildlife from big to small, from crawling to flying; to the needs of those around me such as people living on the streets.
I wonder if any of you have experiences like this, whether it’s from running or some other activity. I know a lot of my friends find this true in their surfing.
So one of the things I have been thinking about is how to turn my running into something active. Meaning, how do I take what I see and use it to benefit others, since I credit running to helping me open my eyes to things around me. Obviously I give God credit for doing this, but I think He has used running in my life as the vehicle to focus me.
Read up on two Stanford grads who are turning their running into Hope Runs.
Read what pastor and blogger Tod Bolsinger’s Marathoner’s for Malawi is doing for those in Africa.
Read up on John Muir.