Running In The Darkness of Life

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.


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Some stories from home, some from travel adventures (usually in autumn), some happening in community, friendship and faith, and some about the vulnerable, lonely and excluded. To honour them because they have changed me for the better and taught me how to love more fully and be loved more fully. Some days are great, some good, some not always good. But overall, it's been a beautiful journey so far, and I feel more like myself every day. -- Debra, writer / photographer / blogger / traveller

17 thoughts on “Running In The Darkness of Life

  1. “Sometimes the courage we learn from running on instinct is incredibly beautiful, and sometimes itโ€™s just as courageous to find more light or to find someone to run with who can share their light with us.” I am using this as my meditative thought this week Debra. you write with much passion and reason I feel so privileged to read your words. I use to run a lot till i had a spinal cord injury and the orthopedic says only brisk walking now. But I can relate with all the paths and routes you talk about here. Life is exactly like this and you write it so thoughtfully. Finding someone we can trust to lead is very scary but we need to surrender to the unknown to better understand what lies ahead. Excellent thoughts here!

    1. Hi Gina, I want to apologize for not responding to your comment for so long. Right after I wrote that blog post, I got quite sick for a while, and never had a chance to come back to it. But I want you to know how much it meant to me–truly. I have not forgotten it all these weeks. Thanks for reading along, and thank you for your really encouraging words. That you would use this as your meditative thought for the week is amazing, and also your words about my passion. I feel blessed to hear that. I am sorry to hear you cannot run anymore. You are right, we never know what is coming, and surrounding to the unknown is scary and also freeing. I hope you continue to enjoy the adventures you find yourself on!

  2. I loved the extended metaphor of running in the dark as a way of looking at a forward moving adventurous life. Inspirational.

    “Running in the dark takes courage. It takes trust. It takes faith.

    1. thanks so much Lynda for reading along and for your words. I am learning courage for adventure through running, and it always makes me think more about how that extends in so many directions of our life. So glad you enjoyed my words and loved having you stop by.

  3. Wha a great word picture Debra– you really draw us all in. IN something so straight forward, we can really take a second look at what’s ahead for us. Love your posts– always so worthwhile. thank you– hugs!

    1. thank you so much Rhonda. I have been sick the past couple weeks, so was unable to write a new story (or even go online hardly at all), but now I am getting better, and looking online, and cheered up by your kind words, thank you! xo

  4. What a lovely comparison, I really liked this and love your writing style. I look forward to reading more that youโ€™ve written.

    1. thanks so much Fiona for stopping by and for your kind words. Writing about running makes it easier for me to write about life–glad you are enjoying!

  5. A really lovely post about running in the dark Debra. I love the sound of your trail in the snow. Peaceful and not knowing what will happen next. Exciting! I’ve ran in the dark once on my own along a dark country road. I didn’t know how long I was going to take as I was trying a longer distance and darkness came so quickly. Strange thing was that I knew that I was running up a hill, but because I couldn’t see it, it seemed easier. Maybe it is all in the mind! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for your words here Dawn-Marie! I really love that running up the hill seemed easier in the dark. Yes I agree, when you can’t see the whole hill, it’s really more like taking it one step at a time. Mind over matter! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Such beautifully written. I love trail running. I love winter running. I love running at night, but I must confess I have never yet run trails in the winter after dark. I guess that being all alone part, if something did happen would I make it out?
    If I had a group to run with, it would make a lot of difference. Amazed how well you did, with only your running coach having the headlamp. This indeed would be running on instinct and would take so much trust and faith.
    On a side note Debra, I have been trying to follow your blog back, I fill in my e-mail and click “subscribe”. A pop up says I am subscribed, but when I return to your blog it appears that I am not subscribed. Not sure if this makes sense. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Carl, thanks so much for reading along and for your awesome response. I’m so glad you enjoyed my post and to hear that you enjoy winter running as well. Yes, I would never want to do it without my running group, and also you are exactly right–it was running on instinct and faith. A cool experience. One that makes me a little nervous, and but a definite adventure! Thank you for letting me know about your difficulties subscribing. First, thank you for wanting to! I don’t see you on my list. I will check in to see with WordPress what is going on, and get back to you.

    2. Hi Carl, I found out from WP that you would have to make sure you not only put in your email to subscribe, but then would have to accept/validate through an email you would receive from WP. And they said if it doesn’t show up in your inbox, then in gmail it might be in folder called “Updates”? Hope this helps. Thanks for wanting to follow along.

      1. And thanks to your comment Carl, there is also a newer and easier WP Follow Button on my page now. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to look into this. And sorry this has taken me awhile to check back in. The button is working. I was just on my dashboard, and am now following, which I am pleased. Hope you have a great Easter weekend.

    1. You are most welcome Carl. Thank you for following along. I am very happy you mentioned the difficulty, because now I have my follow button back, and I am happy about that. I hope you have a great Easter Weekend too, and I look forward to seeing your next post!

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