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Trail running...with Love

From the May 20, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Running is one of my biggest passions. So you can imagine how excited I was when I had the opportunity to run 15 miles during my time at a summer camp for Christian Scientists! The camp offered trail running as a free choice activity, and I enthusiastically signed up.

I knew it would be hard. The path we were going to run started at 9,000 feet in elevation and wove up about 1,300 feet in altitude. This meant I would be going up against big hills, and harder breathing due to the high altitudes, which challenges even the fittest athletes. We woke up at 6:00 that morning, and as our small running group drove out to the site we were to start from, I was feeling very nervous. This would be longer than any route I had run before.

I was expressing God through running, and His qualities can't be exhausted or run out.

Before we started running, we took some time for inspiration. This included quotes from the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, and stories of how other people had found protection and strength from turning to God. One quote, from the book of Isaiah, goes like this: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (40:31). The counselor who shared this quote pointed out that it could relate to a long run like the one we were about to start since it emphasizes the fact that God protects us from weariness when we “wait upon” Him.

Then we were off. The trail started with a big hill, then evened out for a few miles, which made it easier to run. I ran up higher in elevation, and the trees faded behind me as I climbed. Because our running group was spread out along the route, I was alone, high above the valley below. But as I ran, I could hear my friends from half a mile ahead cheering me on. They were high above me on the ridge. I kept repeating, “God is my energy” quietly to myself as a reminder that God is the one responsible, not just for sustaining me on this run, but also for everything I have accomplished so far.

At the top of our ascent, I came to a beautiful view. I could see the mountain range on my left, and on my right, I could see the little town below. The descent was tricky, however—the slippery rocks gave me more trouble than they had on the way up, and I was beginning to feel weary after the uphill climb. So I decided to pray with Hymn No. 139 from the Christian Science Hymnal, which begins: “I walk with Love along the way, / And O, it is a holy day” (Minny M. H. Ayers). I changed “walk” to “sprint downhill” to make the song go with the challenge. I knew that the word Love is capitalized in the hymn, which means that it is a synonym for God. And I knew that God would not let me fall or be hurt since He is always caring for every part of His creation.

Quinn running
Courtesy photo

I kept going all the way to the bottom of the trail. My run wasn’t over, though. I had one more hill to overcome. The boundary to the camp property was on the top of the hill. This was the last stretch, and at that point I started feeling like I was going beyond striving and maybe I was pushing my body too hard. But I realized that, in this specific instance anyway, this thought was mortal mind—a false concept of my real thinking. My real thinking comes from God; mortal mind is simply a temptation to believe in a power opposite Him. Rather than give in to this temptation, I thought about something I had been reciting once a week for most of my life: “the scientific statement of being” from page 468 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. It starts, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” I realized that I was making a big mistake in thinking that I had to rely on my body to do this last stretch of the run. Instead, I could recognize that I was expressing God through running and that His qualities can’t be exhausted or run out.

Once I started thinking this way, I felt better, and I was able to get to the top of the hill and finish the race. We returned to camp, and I experienced no aching at all from the run—not even the next day. I am really grateful for this healing.

Quinn Heinbaugh is a freshman in high school. He enjoys playing soccer, running cross country, and riding his bike.

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