Winter weather returned with a vengeance to my area this week. Temperatures plummeted as the winds blew colder and harder, some in excess of 25 miles per hour. Snowfall on several days brightened the landscape with a clean, white blanket that reflected the sun. Though it felt cold outside, the sun made the winter landscape inviting to me. Not one to be deterred by the elements, I forged ahead with running, but had to skip biking for two days due to icy and extremely windy conditions.
Salt in Action
While running along my route, I noticed the salt spread on the road melting the snow. Watching the salt work reminded me of chemistry class, where I learned how salt lowers the freezing point of water, allowing ice and snow (which is a form of ice) to melt. Salt lowers the freezing point using freezing point depression. The salt’s molecules get in the way of the water molecules trying to bond.
As the ice melts, its frosty surface disappears to reveal the surface beneath. This allows for less hazardous travelling conditions. It also removes any obstacles created by the snow.
Exercising and Benefits of Time
Though the salt works fast, it still takes time for the results of its efforts to be seen. Thinking of this reminded me that exercise works in a similar fashion. The exercises we do alter the muscle and tissue makeup of our bodies. We may not see results right away, but if we stick to doing the exercise, we see changes over time.
Sticking with a plan can be mentally or physically challenging. We may feel defeated, dejected, or frustrated with our body’s slow reaction to our efforts. One thing we must remember is just because we don’t see a change does not mean changes are not taking place. Time is not our enemy, but rather our friend, and we must allow it to help us. The relationship is a two way street: we give what we have to our time, and time in turn gives us the best results it can offer.
Prayer is also an exercise that requires time to work. We need to open our minds, eyes, and ears to fully experience the results. We don’t always see prayer at work. It does a lot behind the scenes, similar to the microscopic molecules in salt. Little by little, minute by minute, it works on a response. Sometimes, the response is not what we anticipate. Nonetheless, the time given to prayer allows us to receive the benefits of doing it. Like the salt, prayer slowly works to clear our paths and remove life’s obstacles.
Seeing Results with Attitude
As we go about giving and receiving, we encounter events that change our attitudes, which have a direct impact upon our perspective in and for life. I found the following quote to be most enlightening:
“Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.” – Irving Berlin
Reflecting on this quote allowed me to realize there are many aspects of life that I have no control over whatsoever. However, I can control my own actions and reactions by practicing patience, diligence, understanding, and compassion. Like the salt slowly working to clear the roadways, the exercises I do and the thoughts I have slowly work to build physical and mental strength, endurance, and courage. These building blocks in turn give me the opportunity to help others, as well as forge ahead through the trials and tribulations of life.
Power in Trying
Though the whipping, cold winds and snow were not very inviting, the ray of sun I spotted in the clouds late yesterday was. Nature called to me, and though I did hesitate, I went for a run. The first quarter mile was harsh at best, but I forged ahead. My efforts were rewarded, for the sky opened up, revealing blue patches between the puffy cotton white clouds. The sight was amazingly beautiful with the sun’s rays cascading down into the snowy fields.
The sight I saw reminded me of a quote I recently read:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.” – Anne Frank
Like the salt on the road, the sun’s rays worked slowly, warming me physically and mentally. With each step, I felt a sense of accomplishment, a will to continue onward, and a satisfaction of knowing that my efforts were being rewarded. When I finished my run, I felt invigorated and energized to take on the tasks of the evening. I got more than I had planned accomplished, mainly because I did not let the circumstances dissuade me and because I spent time alone with nature.
Power in Moving
My running experience the other night is just one of many I have had in my life. There is a mental aspect of the exercise that makes it fully engaging, challenging the mind, body, and soul to keep moving, keep working, keep striving to reach the destination. The elements encountered along the way force one to adapt, react, and change. The movement builds physical strength; the constant assessment of the route builds mental strength; and the outdoor surroundings provide an atmosphere to feel at one with nature, opening the heart and mind.
None of this happens instantly. Time is required to capture the rhythm of the movement, the cleansing feeling of the experience, and the opportunity to build character and endurance. It also takes time to find a good route, figure out proper clothing to wear depending on the weather, and determine when to increase or decrease the intensity.
When I first started running, I did not know much about all these variables. However, through the years, I have slowly learned how to assess each one and make the most of the circumstances. Like the salt on the roadway, minutes spent running have allowed me to slowly clear the path upon my journey. Good and bad experiences alike have changed my physical, mental, and spiritual makeup, allowing me to be more flexible and willing to accept changes.
Salt of the Earth
Now I realize my experience may not be your experience. Perhaps this is why Jesus referred to the people as the salt of the earth. We all have the potential to work slowly over time, helping to clear the way for each other.
Our ways may be different, our timing may or may not coincide, and our faith and hope may be tested. However, our diligence and patience, passion and compassion, and understanding and kindness all have the power to multiply our efforts, building strength, courage, and character to continue upon the journey.
May the experiences we have and share clear the paths we travel upon the journey. May our diligence and persistence in exercising our minds, bodies, and souls work to melt away the obstacles we face, and may every grain of salt be recognized for the powerful potential deep within.
Sun in the afternoon sky
Above the snowy white,
Shining down to touch each flake,
Creating a golden crown in heaven’s space
Full of nature’s beauty and wonder
To be seen from the shores under
The Lord’s caring grace
Evident in the light’s parade
To move the soul deep within
As time unfolds in life’s events.
Cotton clouds puffy white
Rising up as the wind subsides,
Moving through the blue sea
Offering hope to the soul beneath
Watching the changing shapes
Constantly rearranging in their space
Like grains of salt working to clear
The road that remains upon the journey steered
With faith and hope from deep within
Leading home after what has been.
Snowy flakes blowing in the wind
Riding the waves up and down in
The seas of life and time
Moving as the light shines
Making every crystal sparkle in the sun
Moving each molecule with God’s love
Working to open the heart and mind
Deep within nature’s art and time.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Anne Frank – http://www.biography.com/people/anne-frank-9300892
Benefits of running – http://www.runnersworld.com/start-running/6-ways-running-improves-your-health/slide/1
Effects of exercise on bones and muscles – http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/exercise’s-effects-on-bones-and-muscles.html
Freezing point depression – https://www.britannica.com/demystified/why-does-salt-melt-ice
Freezing point of water – https://water.usgs.gov/edu/water-facts.html
Irving Berlin – http://www.biography.com/people/irving-berlin-9209473