No, we have not seen any lions, tigers, or bears, yet. But we have been warned of their presence in the area. Mountain lions and bears may be among our next spectators from the side of the road, as we head into the dense forests and past the Bay area. Although tigers may be scarce in California, we have felt the presence of a certain Tiger, Tiger Woods that is, while having our rest day on the campus at Stanford University, where he started his golfing legacy. The past couple days have felt like a whirlwind of adventure and intensity. A sensory overload of sorts.
After our stay in Monterey, it brought me to a place of incredible fellowship with the people we have been staying with lately. All of our conversations have been centered around our purpose and mission for the summer. Powerfully encouraging me and Paul, while also challenging others to take a look at their own faith.
A 20 mile run last Wednesday brought us through Moss Landing and back along the coast through a variety of berry farms. While running, we again heard the call of the wild, literally, when we heard seals in Moss Landing’s small harbor. Hundreds and hundreds of sea lions lay on a dock that they had taken over. After a quick hello and photo shoot with the seals, we were back on the road heading north. At this point in the trip, we were fortunate enough to stay with a family in San Jose. Our first interaction with the family was what this trip in some ways truly embodies. The beauty of the not knowing what will happen next. That evening I enjoyed the fast pace, unknown, and new people we met. After a few quick decisions were made, Paul and I decided to take a great opportunity and head to San Francisco to see the sights and get an amazing tour by our host Bob. However, before we left and within 20 minutes of arriving at the host family’s grandparents house, we showered, met a woman over 100 years old, ate some freshly picked berries, and were able to get ready in time to leave for San Francisco.
I have been to San Francisco before, but Bob, you my friend know your stuff. I have never been more impressed by someone who knows a certain area well. I guess you ought to if your Grandpa, Dad, and yourself were born there. If the tour guides of San Francisco got together to elect a tour guide mayor, you would be that tour guide major. And a dang fine tour guide mayor you would be. The buffaloes of Golden Gate Park, Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, the Cable Car Station, Union Square, the Presidio, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Park, Fort Pointe, The Golden Gate Bridge, Greens, the cinema history, and the other amazing sites we saw. I knew we would enjoy ourselves when Bob took us to the top of the Westin, 32 stories up, in one of the fastest elevators I have ever experienced. 1, 2, 3… JUMP, was all it took to realize the fun would begin. Hanging in mid-air as the elevator dropped was quite an accomplishment, as my sore calf muscles hardly responded to any fast twitch movements, like jumping. The view was incredible and overlooked most of the Bay area and of San Francisco. What an amazing afternoon and dinner.
After another day with our host family, we got to spend some more time with their kids who were our age. But first it was on to Santa Cruz where we ran through the majority of this “weird” city. I wish we had more time there. Bumper stickers and store fronts all exclaimed the same opinion of Santa Cruz, as being “weird, different, and not normal”. To keep up with the abnormality of the area, we were picked up from our run in a quite different way. Like a bright twinkie racing downhill at us and into the nearest intersection was a bright yellow VW bus. The anticipation and excitement rose as 3 high school guys (one being Will who was part of our host family) honked and found us at our end point. This excitement came to end however, when the bus stalled in the intersection and all 3 guys jumped out and pushed it the rest of the way to us. It reminded me of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, when to start a similar looking VW bus, they must push the bus everytime to get the momentum and engine going.
The ride back was fun, through the turns and fast highway from Santa Cruz back up through the hills of San Jose. Back at the house, Paul and I went swimming with the guys and got to share so much more about our summer and experiences. This week was so encouraging for me. I’ve got so many opportunities to talk about the run, my faith, and whats going on in my heart throughout the journey. The people we have gotten to stay with have been so generous and supportive of us. The fellowship I experience on a day to day basis is never ending with Christ and others.
On friday, we had an intensely physically exhausting day. After running 31 miles, into the hard wind, and up and down the long slopes of the coastal highway 1, we finished at Pescadero State Beach. Our next host picked us up and we were off to Palo Alto on the curvy roads through dense forest. After a huge dinner, we were feeling a bit better, more conscious, and retired on the campus of Stanford.
We had another tour, this time of the University’s campus. This weekend was graduation for the students here, so we enjoyed some apples and crackers that were being handed out throughout the day on campus. Watching all the students jogging and running around the beautiful area made me somewhat envious. “Won’t it be nice to go on an easy enjoyable run when we get back?”, we both joked.
It’s something that I have been thinking about lately, running in general. Why do I run, why do you run, why do any of us run? To be out here, and then see countless people all at different levels running through San Francisco, Stanford, and other places along the coast, makes me really think about the parallels I see in our faith and relationship with Christ.
To be honest, usually I hate books that compare athleticism and sports to Christianity. When given them or recommended I write them off and don’t pay much attention to their validity or biblical relevance. That’s not to say that they are not insightful or inspiring at all. But I guess they really just don’t do it for me. However, for me I’ve really experienced a similar parallel with running that could only be experienced out here on this journey.
Along with my dependence on God’s provision throughout this trip, I am also very dependent on my ability to run, obviously also provided by God. It gets me from place to place, city to city, and shelter to shelter. If I could not run, I would not be able to make it. Fitness, training, and competition are not what I am running for. I am running to live. Running to put my self in a position where I have to rely on the run, rely on God. It is not simply a part of my day, it is my day. I look at others running and how they fit it into their schedules, squeezing it into the morning, at night after work, and how it is ultimately just to shape themselves into the type of person they strive to be. Thinner, faster, stronger, more athletic, whatever the reasons may be. This is comparable to how we can get in our faith and relationships. Structuring ourselves spiritually and striving to perform better. Scheduling in our prayers, Jesus time, and if we even have time to do any of it at all, except from 9-1 on Sunday mornings. If we give our lives to Christ, and truly have a relationship with him, then we need to transform Christ into our lives. Not trying to shape ourselves into the type of good christian we feel we should be. But living to transform ourselves into who Jesus calls us to be and into the relationship he so longingly wants us to be in with Him. Present in every moment of our weeks, days, and hours. Are we only limiting Him to the suggested hour of activity a day that everyone should get? Or have we stepped up to how we are called to live, scheduling our lives and days around what our true calling is.
I make this comparison, but still struggle to apply this into my own life. As I run to live this summer, I live to glorify Him who has let me run.