Day Four: 3am - noon

Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote, 'nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things'. Sometimes you can't help but be overwhelmed with gratitude that it is indeed so.

Is there any way of living more remote from the physical world than that of the modern urban-dweller? We scurry from one room shuttered against nature to another equally so. We close the curtains and turn on a bright artificial light and absorb ourselves in small, flickering pictures of unreality. When the clock tells us, we scuttle briefly outside as if fresh air and sunshine were toxic – which of course our mode of living is fast making them – to travel in enclosed boxes of steel and glass on wheels to our air-conditioned, brightly lit offices. As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote,

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now; nor can foot feel, being shod.

Admittedly we were, at the 10-day race, in the middle of one of the biggest bleared, smeared, smudged, smelly cities on the planet, but, despite that, our experience was one of closeness to nature. The lake in all its moods was our companion, the trees and the grass gave us comfort, the dandelion clocks kept time for us.

When it rained, we got wet; when the sun shone, we got burnt. We saw the sky lightening; saw the sun rise; we watched its slow progress across the sky; we watched darkness fall, the moon - a sliver of light to shepherd us through the long hours of darkness. The cycles of the day, we saw and participated in. The routines of the birds and animals became ours. Even the phases of the moon we saw – the moon waxing fuller in the course of the race to grant us more light and comfort and guidance.

We saw each day from start to finish; we lived each day from start to finish.


lake.jpg

My mind enjoys the stories
Of the sky
Because
They enlarge my mind.

My heart enjoys the stories
Of the moon
Because
They purify my heart.

My life enjoys the stories
Of the sun
Because
They illumine my life.



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Links:

The Self-Transcendence Ten Day Race was founded by Sri Chinmoy
Details of the race - results, photo galleries and such like - can be found at the race webpage - 2006 Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 Day Races
The poem above - I Enjoy the Stories - is part of a volume called Dreams That Fly and can be found in the Sri Chinmoy Library
Both quotes from Gerard Manley Hopkins, the great Jesuit poet, are from his poem God's Grandeur.