Loving the Dark

There's another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgts it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light which it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary.
-Ed Abbey, Desert Solitaire

I left the house this morning about 5:30 to run. It's still dark at 5:30, although it's getting a little lighter each day. This morning's sky was coal black and liberally sprinkled with stars. Big, beautiful, shiny stars. I'm just about to embark on the trail and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a shooting star. The arc of this thing was huge. I did make a wish, but I won't tell you what it was. I did tell God though.

I've been doing this pre-dawn running for several weeks now. And I love it. For the most part, I can't see a thing. I don't know if there's ogres laying in wait for me or piles of steaming horse manure strategically placed in my path. Folks really do ride horses on this trail. I'm not sure about the orgre thing. But I've got to tell you, my senses are on full alert. Something practically ran across my feet the other morning (I think it was a rabbit) and my heart rate went through the roof. Of course, little petey rabbit encountering my size 12s no doubt set in motion a pre-dawn cardiac arrest as soon as he got clear of the trail.

And even though I can't see, I can see. Sounds strange, but Cactus Ed's quote above reflects my experience. When a car's headlights or the halo of suburbia hits my eyes, I'm blinded; totally isolated, save for those lights. But with the lights off, I'm a part of the trail, a part of the darkness. I'm humbly a part of something much larger than myself.

Jesus said something about men loving the darkness rather than the light. What if Jesus was being cryptic there? What if Jesus knew, and I'm certain He did due to the whole "created everything" status He holds, that some light blinds you and some darkness allows you to really see? What if Jesus meant that we love that artificial light, that stuff we create on our own or conjure up somehow, that illuminates but also isolates, which is a darkness of the worst kind? What if Jesus was hoping that we'd spend a little time in the pre-dawn hours occasionally and truly exegete what He was saying? Allow ourselves to be limited but unlimited at the same time? Experience some of that "cool-of-the-day" walking like Adam and Eve?

There is a darkness that gifts you with sight. And there is a light that cripples you with blindness. About halfway through my run, there's one of those Narnia lamp-posts that's my turnaround landmark. Just as I was turning around, guess what I saw? Another shooting star. I kid you not. But I almost missed this one because I had that light in my eyes. The lamp allowed me to see where I was going, but the shooting star allowed me to see what was going on. There is a difference, my friends.

But I have cut myself off completely from the greater world...the desert and the night are pushed back - I can no longer participate in them or observe; I have exchanged a great and unbounded world for a small, comparatively meager one. - Ed Abbey

I have faith in the night...

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