On running mountains and going deep into stillness.
The birds chirp as the sun comes up and so does my Garmin. My heart is pumping and my breath is trying to catch up. The trees stand strong, the breeze runs cool. The sun begins to shine and my tights start burning.
Running trails connects us with nature. It tunes us into a higher rhythm.
I told my five year old nephew that I climbed to the highest point of our—mostly flat—country. He asked me if I did it to be closer to God. I was moved and told him yes and that there was no need to go anywhere because God was also in his heart. He said: “No, God is in Heaven and in Mass.” He just started catholic school.
My nephew’s take may seem innocent and simplistic, but if we take Mass to mean ritual and scriptures and knowledge. From Buddhist or Jewish tradition or naturalists writers like John Muir or Henry David Thoreau.
If we encompass all rituals: visiting a temple or sitting in silence in the early morning. We are simply connecting to the essence of our heart that is naturally divine. There are all these different paths. Reading or running. You don’t really need a path, it’s right here right now.
It is easy to connect with God through nature, if we pay attention.
Mountains make us pay attention.
Hiking up to Volcán Barú was hard.
Not the hardest thing I’ve done, but hard enough to be sore for a week.
Carrying everything you need on your back makes you think about what you really need. Not many things. Water is heavy but essential. I was carrying three liters, we were supposed to fill up on the top. I took all the water in a bladder inside my backpack and drank too quickly. So my water was over before we reached the top.
We were supposed to fill up there, but there wasn’t any water on the top. Too many hikers, maybe, too few rains. This day there was none.
Luckily we are resilient enough to go a few hours without water. Throbbing thirst coming down like sandy grey pebbles. The sun burning merciless but once down we had plenty of water, coconut water and beer. And now they were holy.
We were unlucky with the water but really lucky with the skies. It was a clear day and we got to see both oceans.
Mountains are generous like that. They slow you down and ignite your powers.
You need to watch your step, but it’s also take some time to look up and see the views, to see where your going and how high you’ve come already. To notice the immense power of your legs taking you all the way up.
Mountains are not obstacles, they are meant to be explored. They offer so much: cool waterfalls, hard climbs, sandy pebbles. Generously giving us reminders of blisters on your feet or scratches on our hands. We take the lessons and enjoy them more.
The trail I run in during the week is not long enough to make you ponder survival. It is so green and humid. Filled with life: birds, capybaras, coatis, lizards. Has a few steep climbs. It strongly roots my days.
A relationship with our surroundings, a way of relating to the divine. Seeing, hearing, touching nature. Simply being there.
Maybe we run outside to find stillness. A higher silence.
A happy trail to a quiet calm on your mind. Run and train to be prepared, but maybe we already are. Maybe you get this understanding without understanding. Beyond language, with no words…as quiet and still as a mountain.
Ed: Elysha Anderson