Sometimes I run in the dark.
In the winter, the sun comes up so late that a morning run nearly always begins in darkness. This time of year I do all my jogging early, before the day gets too hot. Sometimes I run before the sun has begun to rise, either because my schedule demands it or because it is already warmer than I like, and I want to finish early.
Most of the path I cover has no streetlights, so when it’s dark I need a lamp of some kind. I wear one of those (very dorky) little forehead lights that attaches around my head with an elastic strap. As soon as the morning sky gives enough light for me to see without the lamp, I take it off and carry it the rest of the way (thereby reducing the dork factor, should I be seen by anyone I know).
The headlamp gives me freedom to run without fear of falling over a speed bump or tree root, ensures that drivers can see me when I’m crossing a street, and enables me to exercise when otherwise I’d be stuck at home.
Our generation in this country isn’t much accustomed to the darkness. Unless the power is out, we merely have to flick a switch and the lights come on. What a luxury.
Even so, being in the dark, figuratively, is part of the human condition. We never know just what’s coming next. Even less do we know what the distant future holds. We plan our schooling, imagine what job we’ll have, look for long-term relationships, save for retirement. I am confident in saying that no one’s life has ever turned out exactly how they’d imagined it when they were young.
Because we are in the dark about what’s coming, we need lights. People to whom we can go for advice or help. Friends who encourage. Family who are our home even when we’re far away. God, who never leaves our side. These lights help us find our way. Alone on an unlit pathway, we trip over our own feet, find ourselves in unsafe situations, grope in the darkness. With the light of God’s presence, we are less afraid, more sure of our footsteps, secure that we are headed in the right general direction.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.—from Psalm 119.
We run in the dark, but not alone.
When the sun finally starts to rise, we begin to see with growing clarity what was there all along: purpose, meaning, love, faith, hope. As the pathway continues to unfold before us, every turn brings something new and unforeseen.
Around every turn, God is already there, holding the lamp.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2011