The Run

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Imogene Pass (13,114ft.) is located between the mountain towns of Ouray (7810Ft) and Telluride (8820ft.), in the southwest corner of Colorado.  The gravel road that connects these two towns is a serpentine remnant of the long abandoned mining industry.  Now, tourism is the economic engine that puts paint on old buildings.  The abandoned mining roads see the tire treads of rented jeeps and high tech mountain bikes.

Since 1974, Ouray and Telluride have hosted the Imogene Pass run.  On the first Saturday after Labor Day,  1500 runners come to Ouray, eager to test their legs and their lungs on the rocky road that winds into very thin air as it connects these two towns.

The road from Ouray to the top of Imogene Pass is 10 miles long as it gains 5,310 feet in elevation.  Along the way there are aid stations for the runners to replenish their dwindling resources.  There are also a number of cut off points.  These points are time checks for the slower runners……if you do not keep a minimum pace than you will need to turn around and retrace your steps.  This is for the safety of the runners and the volunteer workers.  Afternoon storms are quite prevalent in the high mountains and it is best to not be in an exposed location.

As I mingled with other runners at the beginning of this run….I experienced more than my usual anxiety.  I was keenly aware that I had never run this much, up hill.  I was not sure my mind and my body were up to the task.  I was also aware that I had never run this much….. downhill!  I was not sure if my joints were ready for this abuse.  I was keenly aware that the cut off guardians might tell me to turn around.  Failure would be clearly defined.

People who have successfully completed this run talk about a concept called IFM.  Incessant Forward Motion is the key to success.  As long as you continue to move forward….you will be successful.  I was convinced that I could keep moving.  It might not be pretty, but I would keep moving.

The other thing that people told me is that when I run down hill, I need to keep my weight ahead of my feet.  If I experience a ‘falling’ sensation, than I will know that I am running in a ‘joint friendly’ manner.  Most of my downhill running has been about my heels striking the ground first and my joints absorbing the shock.  Being a heel striker might work well on a flat surface but it is not ideal for old joints on 7 miles of rocky downhill.

The starting gun sounded and I started to move.  My mind was asking the question….can I make it?  Then I asked….can I make it in style?  What are the style points in such a difficult endeavor…….do not whine!

Then I focused on the critical application points.  IFM……keep moving, even if you have to crawl.  Run downhill like you are falling and link your recoveries.

I finished that run in the town of Telluride.  It was fun, beautiful, painful and life giving.  I am more committed than ever to practice IFM and to link my recoveries. I want to do life in style….I will not whine!

Presence

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Two friends, both on a different coast, sitting in hospital rooms, waiting for a loved one to recover.  The chances of complete recovery are very slim.  Life, as they have known it, has changed forever.  What are they left with?  What greets them this morning?

They are greeted, this day….with a new day.  This new day is full of questions, it is full of waiting, it is full of uncertainty.  Will she live?  Do I need to find long term nursing care, hospice care?  What will our days look like? What will my days look like?  Is this the reason we have been together all these years?  Will our resources last?

God, where are you in the middle of this?  God, why have you been so silent?  God, do you care?  What are you wanting me to learn from this?  The questions rage inside, erupting into tears of frustration and groans of desolation.

In all of this there are messages from Scripture that seem to rattle around in my head and cause me to wonder.  “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  “Ask whatever you will and it will be given to you.” “Rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice.”  ” Have no anxiety about anything but in everything let your request be made known to God.”  “Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.”  “Never will I leave you.  Never will I forsake you.”

This morning, in the silence, there is life in review.  I admit that I do not understand very much. But I do understand that You, the Creator, have blessed me with life! You have called me, You have empowered me, You have loved me and You have allowed me to love others.  Out of the middle of my current chaos, I am aware of the incredible gifts that You have allowed me to experience.  You have allowed the life & love of others to speak to me of Your love.

Now Lord, as You call me to love this person…..help me to love her unconditionally.  Help me to understand that I am called to be Your presence, in her life. Lord, help my friends, as they sit in that hospital room, to know Your love and to understand that they are the conduit of that love.  Lord help all of us to be Your agents of Your unconditional, reconciling, healing love….this day.  Therefore, knowing that You are doing something in and through us…….may we rejoice and be glad.  You have blessed us to be a blessing!

To Connect

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This week I purchased an  Amplifier Signal Booster for my cell phone.  It is designed to do one thing, amplify cell phone signals.  In theory, it will allow me to continue conversations even when the signal is low and I am flirting with dropping a call.  Hopefully, it will allow me to maintain a connection even as I am driving through some of the remote areas of Colorado.

One of the joys of my life is that I get to live in the mountains of Colorado.  I see this as a great gift and I try to never take it for granted.  Therefore, when I jump in my pick up truck, I want to be available.  I want to be able to continue conversations just like my urban friends.  More importantly, I want to be able to plan the connections and therefore, the disconnections.  It is frustrating to have a conversation dictated by the location of a cell phone tower.

As I have reflected upon my desire to be connected…..I realize it is driven, in part, by my desire to be disconnected.  There is something very, very good about being ‘off the grid’.  I love being in those places where I cannot access technology.  Yet, I want to be disconnected in a way that allows me to relax.  I have come to realize that I can relax when I have planned to turn off technology.  When technology is interrupted, when it fails and I am not able to meet an obligation, then I am aware of significant internal tension.

In my world, today, there is an implicit expectation that I will be available  24/7.  And, if I am honest, I want to be wanted and therefore, I want to be available.  I fear being marginalized and moving to the sidelines.  So, I stay plugged in, I stay available and ultimately the ubiquity of amorphous expectations takes its toll and I must say no.  I must turn it off.  That is the only way that I can ‘turn it back on’ with a sense of freshness and sanity.

As I reflect upon my issues around connection/rejection, I reflect upon my connection with the Lord of the universe.  I am aware that He desires connection with me.  His desire for connection is beyond my ability to understand and/or appreciate.  I wonder, what is the best way for me to boost & amplify my connection with Him?  

I am convinced that if I am going to amp my connection with Him, I must learn to turn off the technology.  I must learn to quiet my inner cacophony.  I must learn to sit in silence and solitude that I might be positioned to hear His still small voice (1Kings19:12).  I am quite certain that His voice whispers: “I love You!” That message must be amplified with in me so that it overwhelms the noise of my culture.

That message is transformational!!  May we be transformed, Today!