Here we are again – i’m still recovering from my first 10k of the year, just tiredness, no injuries, – the Bay 10k in Dun Laoghaire on the August Bank Holiday Monday. The sun shone and the crowd gathered, young and old, obvious athletes and not-so-obvious athletes. We started off in view of the sea and i settled in near the back of the runners – no false aspirations today. My only aim in starting was to finish – honorable enough!
It took me a couple of kilometers to loosen up and then i settled into a steady pace. We hit the 5k mark easy enough, though it was at the bottom of a long hill and the thought occurred to me that i was just starting my normal Saturday morning distance of 5k. After the hill though it got easy again, a young spectator with a garden hose revived me at the 8k mark and i cruised on home – suffering only from slight pains in my right hip and my left calf for the last 500m or so. One hour, three minutes and 57 seconds – a few seconds slower than my previous 10k race last November on a much more hilly course – i declared myself well satisfied with my time and my physical condition at the end.
But more than that, my attitude, my running form, my enjoyment of running, dare i say my fleetness of foot, have all changed fundamentally. This is not only due to experience but to my reading of running books such as ‘Born to Run’ by Chris McDougall and ‘Running with the Pack’ by Mark Rowlands. I am now a happy runner – if i could become a happy and regular trainer as well – then who could guess my limits? My study and reading of philosophy have also contributed greatly to this improved mindset and, indeed, i include both those books in both running and philosophy categories.
I had hoped to do a 8k race in Galway city tomorrow but can’t make it so i think i’ll do the local 5k parkrun in Marlay Park instead. We are spoiled here in Dublin, and Ireland, with the number of runs and races organised every week and i’m sure that it is the same in many parts of the globe – i’m starting to have an itch to run races or organised runs in as many different countries as i can. Not in the least obsessively of course.
Talking of the multitudes running connects me back to my last blog, 1513, and the idea that the human brain owes a significant debt of development to running and hunting and the extra protein that provided. I read recently that other researchers attribute the discovery of the benefits of cooking, by which the protein becomes much more available for digestion, to be the real root cause of the development of the human brain. Perhaps its more likely to be an ‘and’ rather than an ‘or’, in that both the ability to catch more protein and the ability to utilize that protein more efficiently contributed to the rapid development of our brains.
In ‘1513’ i connected the idea of the development of the human brain with the moment of ‘The Fall’ – the development of knowledge and self-awareness – this is where we wander slightly off the beaten track into the realm of philosophy rather than running.
Imagine if it was ever proven that running caused the Fall, that drove the wedge between humans and God! Some religions might well ban running and declare it to be a sinful activity. If humans definitely stepped outside the Cosmic Order, if they rent apart their relationship with God in exchange for greater brain power and a higher IQ, then it seems to follow that there must be a limit to God’s power. Humans have stepped outside Gods rules and our longings, our eternal search, our religious and spiritual journeys could be reflections of our regret that we made such a move and may represent our efforts to undo that action and return to God’s dominion.
Obviously, in such a scenario, such efforts would be futile.
Are all such efforts futile?
We must first answer this question. We know from our own experience that very many of them are – in fact you could certainly say that all my efforts, limited as they have been, have failed so far.
And yet, we have the word, and the example, of many holy people down through the ages that a reconciliation, reunion even, with God is possible. So perhaps we are still living God’s plan, perhaps God’s power is limitless, perhaps divinity is omnipotent, perhaps humanity’s development of a running ability, their jettisoning of speed, strength and harmony have all contributed to his positive evolution – perhaps we are not three quarters of the way down an evolutionary cul de sac. Perhaps a greater brain, even with all the noise it creates and all the damage it can do, is necessary to truly know God and to develop true harmony with creation. Perhaps we are on the right track after all.
On our visit to Sardinia, we visited the church of San Giovanni di Sinis, in the village of Sinis, near the tower of Tharros. It is a small, stone-built church, almost completely without adornment. The walls inside are bare stone and the seats are simple wooden pews. It is one of my favourite churches in the world.
The original church is recorded as being constructed in the 6th Century AD – imaging that, within 600 years of Jesus walking and preaching on this earth. I would love to know what was preached in that church on those early days. The current structure dates from around the 9th Century, still venerable in its own right. How many seekers have sought their God within these four walls? As you sit there, you can feel that many have found peace and succor there – it is indeed a holy place.
It is my experience of places like this, holy places, that has always encouraged me in my search for the Truth, the truth about God.
Keep seeking my friends.