Yesterday I woke up before the sunrise.
Immediately, some of you may be wondering, “Why would anyone torture themselves this way?” Or perhaps you are thinking, “Big deal! I do that every day (or rather, my kids do it for me!)”
I hear you…but crazy or not, I did it. I set my alarm the night before because I knew that
the only way I was going to start running regularly again was to schedule it before anyone else in my house was awake. So I woke up, did some light stretching and meditation, and then laced up my shoes to hit the streets.
As I made my way to the park under the dawn-hued sky and the haze of the morning, I realized something: I am not the only one out here! I passed several dogs pulling their sleepy owners toward the grassy haven of the Patterson Park annex. One of my neighbors down the block, who I almost never see, was out engaging in what appeared to be a deeply-ingrained routine of exercise in old sweats. I could actually hear the birds chirping and the leaves rustling instead of the constant drone of traffic. I smelled the (slightly fresher?) air being cleaned by the big trees at the park’s edge. I felt the cooler-than-normal breeze at the top of the hill as I started my loop around the park.
It was about half-way through the (very difficult) second mile that I realized something. I am usually sleeping through all of this! Each day I pressed snooze or forgot to set an alarm altogether, I was missing out on seeing and feeling my neighborhood come alive like this, just before the sunrise.
It was only when I was awake and walked outside that I was able to see what I was missing; a world that I thought I knew so well seemed strange and beautiful and new to me.
But man…it’s really hard to wake up sometimes.
There are other things that feel more important. Like, well…more sleep! Or the comfort of bed. Or you are really sore and the idea of running again feels impossible. That’s what I felt like the next morning!
But then you remember what you experienced. You can’t go back, because you know there is a world out there that you’ve seen and it changes you. You know that your perspective has been widened and your eyes have been opened to things you never knew about.
Maybe you can tell, but I’m not just talking about my neighborhood run anymore. Almost 10 years ago, I was first awakened to the fact that HIV is still an epidemic in Baltimore. It was because of the work of HopeSprings and my church that I came to see the challenges so many of our sisters, brothers, and friends are facing as they live with HIV. And I saw the ways many in the faith community had failed to love well. You could say that many in the church, synagogue, mosque, and meeting house were pressing snooze as the alarm sounded from our fellow human beings to wake up.
I encourage you to join me over the next weeks as I share with you a little bit more of my journey, how it has led me to work with HopeSprings, and what motivates me to #Run4Hope in the upcoming Baltimore Running Festival. (You can sign-up to run with us here!)
It’s going to be hard for me to get up tomorrow morning and run again! It’s so easy to keep sleeping! But I encourage you to hear the alarm, to get up, suit up, and check out the world right outside your door. It’s hard, but trust me, it’s worth it.