How many of you out there are runners? And how many of you have run on trails at nighttime in the dark of winter, trusting your footing will hold you steady? And whether or not you run, do you know how it feels to step into the darkness of your life, not knowing where the light will come from, but trusting it will show up?
Running in the dark is a little bit like running through life. You can’t see the white snowy ground very well on the dark trails along the river at night, but you imagine you can see better than you really can in the hazy light, because you are eager to move forward. You hope your eyes will adjust to the dark, while also wishing for brighter light to help you along. You step tenderly where you think the snowy ground will be, telling yourself you see things as they really are. You hesitate when you wish you were more sure, and then move forward with confidence when you realize you should have hesitated. You feel with your heart and your senses, because your mind can’t tell you what you see. We are creatures of uncertainty, not because we don’t know what we are doing or who we are, but because we can never be sure what life is going to throw our way. Running in the dark takes courage. It takes trust. It takes faith.
Last Wednesday my running group ran along the trail by the river and through the woods. The sky was a magical grey-white with the reflection of snow, the trees were empty and quiet, and the trail was white and soft and beautiful. A natural wonder. My heart was alive! But my eyes, and my poor night vision, and my fear of not knowing whether the ground would be there steady and flat when I put my feet down–this was the learning part, the hard part. Our running coach had a headlamp, and that helped when we are all together. But there were moments where he was further ahead or behind with the others, and we were challenged to learn and anticipate and trust the trail. A knowing beyond knowing. The hazy white snow played tricks on me. I shook my head, blinked often, and tried to visualize where my footing should be. But nothing is ever for sure. Courage, dear heart.
This week I will buy a headlamp. But I have learned something special about the courage it takes to step forward in the dark and not always be certain your foot will land squarely. Life is an adventure and sometimes a risk–we make choices, and we step the best we can, often without being able to see what comes next. But if we are not moving, nothing will come. The trail will forever be waiting. Sometimes the courage we learn from running on instinct is incredibly beautiful, and sometimes it’s just as courageous to find more light or to find someone to run with who can share their light with us.
So I will end by saying this: blessed are those who have the courage to step forward in the dark, and blessed are those who seek the light, and blessed are those who run through life sharing the darkness and light together.
The trail is waiting.