On the Corner
BY ROBERT DOCTER –
The soft beauty and comforting promise of a new day warmed my body and refreshed my spirit. The dawn forced my attention to another sunrise as women rushed to find friends and verify the impossible. The gift of a new day brought its own challenges to those standing before that empty tomb as it presents to each of us. My thoughts run their own course.
Toward the end of my morning run, I climb a hill, turn a corner, and finish at a drinking fountain. I always take a drink. The water tastes better at that moment than at any other time during the day. I feel refreshed, renewed, invigorated, victorious. The challenge of the moment is over. The simple act of finishing brings joy. My elevated heart rate has brought an explosion of ideas and now begins its slow decline. My lungs reduce their heaving. My body heat pours from me to dissipate in the cool morning air. Feelings and thoughts merge. I stretch the muscles of my neck and back and legs and begin my walk.
The consistency of the exercise reinforces my personal discipline. From the run I check the quality of my character, the dimensions of my commitment, the power of my will.
I am alone but not lonely, stressed but at peace, challenged but confident. I set my own pace, determine my own route, bring my own meaning to what I perceive around me.
The world is a beautiful place and I have choices. And because I have choices, I have power.
Life’s challenges parallel my morning run. The first minute seems like a honeymoon in its easy, stress free challenge. Beginnings are always easy. The second minute is the hardest of the day — my heart hasn’t caught up with the requirements of my body. Sometimes, courage lags behind. And then, I breathe more deeply and things smooth out.
Difficulties do not last. Nothing stays the same. We are always in transition — moving either toward growth or the safety of the status quo. Long, slow, tedium gives way to easy and swift descent down a hill I will soon need to re-climb. Unexpected, uneven paths promise stumbles or even falls. Often, we need to take our eyes off the goal long enough to pay attention to the details. Snarling dogs leap from behind hedges with fangs bared and then retreat as I move by, Life’s “dogs” will ever yap at the runner from a position of safety. My overly competitive spirit places ridiculous demands until want and need once again regain balance. Often we seem to want to sprint through a part of life, ignoring the opportunities and beauty around us, driven by some mythical belief we need to move faster, accomplish more, achieve greater ends. Perhaps the true challenge is to be what we are and the best we can be.
A fellow runner, once distant, now closes. My spirit soars with the receipt of a friendly greeting and a word or two of praise. I dwell on it over and over again. Just a simple compliment can change the way we address all of life’s problems and issues. As I see another runner approaching, I greet him and offer my own words of praise. These thoughts, too, reverberate through my mind. Receiving praise from someone else gives us the desire to commend those around us. Others refuse me even eye contact, and I brush by, saying nothing, feeling ignored and rejected. We tend to treat others the way they treat us — and nobody gains. Within ten strides they disappear from my mind.
It’s late in the run. As I think about how far I’ve come and the distance to go, suddenly I feel the pain in my knee more severely, the fatigue in my legs seems more pronounced, my breathing seems more difficult. But when I concentrate on matters other than the run itself, I find myself a quarter-mile farther down the path, wondering about the unperceived stretch of terrain I’ve just covered. Sometimes, ignoring the negatives allows concentration on the positives.
And so I climb the final hill, round the final corner and finish. The reward comes only at the finish — we must stick to the end. — I’ve made it to my drinking fountain from which I always drink deeply.
I know a fount where sins are washed away.
I know a place where night is turned to day.
Burdens and lifted, blind eyes made to see,
There’s a wonder working power
In the Blood of Calvary.