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!

The Canyon

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The horses were up ahead.  They were carrying the rafts and all of the large gear that we would need to float down the Gunnison Gorge.  We were carrying all of our personal camping gear: clothes, tent, sleeping bag and the critical fly fishing equipment.  Everything was tucked into monstrous dry bags that were suspended from our shoulders.  Dry bags are wonderful on the river but they are not quite ideal for a day hike, yet this is the only way into the canyon and this is where the adventure begins.

Actually, the adventure started many months before when we first thought about floating and fishing the Gunnison River.  This section of the Gunnison River is known (Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die) by fishermen all over the USA and it had captured our imagination.  Our good friends, Judy & Don, quickly agreed to come along.  At that point, we knew we would have a grand time.

The first day of our three day trip found us hiking into the river, loading boats and heading off to experience a wonderful afternoon of fishing.  This canyon, like other river canyons, is incredibly beautiful.  A big part of its beauty is wrapped up in the fact that it is so remote.  At any given point in the day, it is easy to imagine that you are the first person to ever see these rock walls or experience the river’s current.  In a place so remote and so beautiful, it is easier to see God’s handiwork and to reflect with a sense of humble awe.

Two days later, sitting on the bank of the river, I realized that I had adapted to a new rhythm.  It was a rhythm that I knew from other camping trips.  It was the rhythm of beauty and simplicity.  Getting up and going to bed when you are in the wilds is quite simple.  A tent, a sleeping bag, level ground & a sleeping pad….quite basic but amazingly comfortable.  Clothes…quite simple, the same as yesterday.  Technology does not invade the moment. It does not work.  Therefore, I could easily sit and reflect on this journey called life.  The beauty & solitude of the canyon was a balm to my hurried soul.

What things would I be taking with me as we leave the canyon?  I love the simplicity of the out of doors.  My life is too cluttered with all that I have and all that I do.  There is a richness of life that comes with the simplicity of the present moment.   I think it comes as I learn to say ‘no’….so that I might selectively say ‘yes’.

I love the different ways that God reveals himself in nature.  As I sit in beautiful places I find myself echoing the words of the Psalmist:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Yet, you made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

Lord, this day I say thank you!  This day, I say ‘yes’ to you!

I Do!

ring

An outdoor celebration of love and commitment was unfolding before my very eyes.  The groom and the wedding party had already worked their way to the front of the outdoor amphitheater.  Now the bride, in all of her radiant beauty, was walking with her proud father to the front of the assembled guests.  Something wonderful and magical was about to happen.  Two were in the process of becoming one.  Lord willing, a union was forming that would last a life time.  A union that would bring great joy to all.

At the end of this marriage ceremony the bride and the groom signed a marriage certificate/license….a contract? This was also signed by the best man & the maid of honor.  I too signed the certificate. This marriage contract is recognized by the state of Colorado.  It certifies that this marital union is  official.

This certificate is a  legal document.  Therefore, it implies conditionality:  I will love you as long as you love me.  But once you stop loving me than I do not need to continue to love you.  It implies the essence of quid pro quo.

The marriage certificate invites us to weigh and measure what the other person is doing compared to what we are doing.  It measures behavior….it does not measure the heart.  It does not transform the heart.

God does not talk about marriage in terms of contract. He talks about it in terms of covenant.  The marriage covenant is about loving unconditionally.  Yet, unconditional love is outside our natural ability.  So why talk about it?  God’s design is that the bride and the groom are each uniquely and profoundly connected to Him.  That unique, profound and individual connection allows them to love one another in selfless and heroic ways.  It allows them to embody servant leadership.  God is in the business of transforming the heart so that we can love the other, unconditionally.

Ephesians talks about loving our spouse as Christ loved the church.  How did Christ love the church?  He gave everything He had that the church might flourish.  That sort of love is only possible as one is connected to the source of infinite love….God, himself.

My covenant commitment is about loving God and allowing Him to love me.  Out of that relationship I am called and I am empowered to love my beautiful bride, no matter what.  Ultimately, she is called into that same empowering relationship. She is called to love me unconditionally.  Yet, if she does not do that,  I am still called & empowered to love her unconditionally.  That is the adventure!

The couple that is signing their marriage contract today is embarking on an adventure.  They are beginning the journey of loving in extravagant, unconditional ways. This journey is possible because they are extravagantly loved.

How is His extravagant love transforming your heart and changing your journey this day?

Amp The Joy!

Dick

The Tag Line

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As I sit here banging away at my key board, I am wearing a Nike t-shirt.  It reads…”Just do it.” This tag line might be one of the most recognized tag lines in the western world.  It summarizes a life style that the Nike corporation promotes and seems to embrace.  If nothing else, it is recognized around the world and it helps them sell action oriented products.  But, most importantly, it is a tag line that resonates with the core of who I am and it helps me get up off the couch.  The interesting question might be….what do I do when I get off the couch?

 Just do it!  Ok…..what should I do?  Why am I doing it?  Those questions seem to grab me and give me pause for reflection.  Those questions have, at times, brought all of my  doing to a complete stand still.  They have haunted me and motivated me to look for an adequate answer.  The questions,  what am I doing and why am I doing it, bring me back to my reason for being……. the reason for my existence.  Those questions drive  me to wrestle with me.

Theologians have said that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  I am convinced that that is exactly what I must do.  How do I do that….in part, I commit to being the best me that I can possible be.  What does that look like?  I must be radically committed to being fully alive and fully engaged with Life.  As I embrace the life I have been given, when I live it with energy, intensity and focus….then I am glorifying Him.

Howard Thurman said this: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  So the question might be, what makes you come alive?  What gives you a sense of God’s joy & favor.  Eric Liddell said: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”  I have to believe that as we discover that which makes us come alive, then we will understand how we can uniquely Glorify Him. Then we will live into our unique calling, and our lives will have meaning and purpose and we will sense His pleasure.

What is the critical task? Discover that which makes you come alive.  Then, go and do that.  “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

What is  the tag line for your life?  Write it out!  Paste it on the mirror in your bathroom.   Allow your personal tag line to help you get up off the couch and live into the day.  Your tag line must help you define the doing that flows from your core being.  Live your tag line!

My tag line: Live Life-Choose Adventure!

Recently, I have added another tag line: Amp the Joy!

What is the tag line for your life?  Please share it with us!

Please live your tag line with great energy, that He might be glorified this Day!

-D