On Saturday morning, as I do most Saturdays, I woke up bright and early to head out for my weekly long run.
For the next three hours, I ran along the foothills near my home. It was one of the first warm Saturdays in months, and I was able to witness the first signs of spring. Plants were beginning to emerge along the hillside, seeming to spill over the rocks to make a beautiful, green moss.
I stepped off my usual trail, which was by now heavily rutted by four-wheelers, to run along the green earth in between the trees that were also well into the thawing process after a long, cold winter.
As I headed toward the top of the hill, I heard a rustling in the trees and turned to see a deer that had darted across my path, followed by two more as they made their way down the hillside.
The child in me wanted to follow them to see where they were headed, but my adult side quickly realized there was no way I could keep up with them and that I would most likely fall on my face in the process.
So I headed higher, eventually meeting back up with a single-track dirt trail that led me along the side of the hill, giving me a spectacular view of both the valley below and the acres of tree-covered hillside above.
At that moment, I felt an immense sense of peace and oneness with the earth that surrounded me.
This was my idea of heaven.
The next morning was a Sunday. And just like I had done the previous morning, I woke up bright and early. But instead of heading outside for a run, my run consisted of a sprint to the shower so I could quickly get myself ready for church before the masses awoke.
That sprint turned into a dart down the stairs to make breakfast for eight other people, who gobbled it up in seconds because that is all the time we had before my husband and I had to begin getting everyone dressed with their hair combed and faces washed. I also had to make sure the baby was fed and a diaper bag was packed, all while sending two of the older kids to the church building to get us a seat so we wouldn’t have to battle seven kids in hard chairs on the hard floor of a basketball court, which is used for the chapel's overflow area.
Once there, we spent the next three hours doing our best to sit reverently when the most we could manage consisted of playing “pass the baby” along the row while keeping a careful watch on my 2-year-old’s head so he didn’t create a matching goose egg on the other side of his forehead. This was all done while I kept a glaring eye on the older kids because not one of them could keep a single extremity to themselves.
When the final word was spoken from the man giving the closing prayer, I turned to my husband with a sigh of relief that said, “We made it (through this part)," knowing full well that my remaining time would be spent in and out of the mother’s room and walking in the hallway, catching maybe five minutes total of a spiritual lesson.
As opposed to my Saturday run, the hours in my church meetings did not leave me feeling peaceful, and sitting in a confined pew while juggling kids really is not my idea of heavenly.
During this very busy time in my life, I feel peace and love for the world around me as I move in constant forward motion along the hillside. It is there that I feel the most gratitude, and the desire to be good and to do good.
But running is not my religion, nor are the mountains the place where I worship my God and my Savior — something that many runners and outdoorsmen — and women — confuse.
It is OK to love the outdoors, which are filled with beauty beyond measure, but it is important to realize where that beauty came from and to thank God for this wondrous Earth, even if it means a less than restful Sunday.
Arianne Brown is a mother of seven young children and is a Salomon at City Creek, Nuun and Unshoes sponsored athlete. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write