We run in that space just before the sunlight bursts new born, obliterating darkness; in that space where apart from the faithfulness of day, we’d not expect the arrival of Light at all. This is the parenthesis between rain showers, the tar-dark, murky stillness before another downpour, somehow carved for us like a silent pause.
Our eyes have quickly adjusted to the darkness. The only light just now is the artificial kind, the glint of streetlights on inky asphalt. The only sound manufactured, the faint rumble of a car cranking, maybe the next street over, its taillights warning-red and wide-round. We’re barely awake, really, sluggishly walking a moment to warm-up, and then slow jogging our way through the quiet. Kevin always takes the place closest the traffic, protectively hemming me in. We talk lightly at first, easy phrases falling against the road with our feet.
The clouds slide away, gunmetal drifting over black night, only noticable to us because of the fat pearl moon now suddenly visible in the sky. Light traces the clouds. I can make out the green-gold leaves of the trees, the twisted limbs, the edges of this winding road. We skirt a puddle we would not have seen. In the moonlight, the path has perspective. I look over at Kevin and smile. Another quarter of a mile and we’ll cross the street to avoid a curve around which morning cars routinely barrel blindly, early-texting on the way to work. It’s a normal thing, this way we recklessly endanger one another with our distraction, our hurry, blind, but not even knowing it. Your word is a lamp unto my feet,” the psalmist sings to God, and I breathlessly murmur the truth of it. Without the Spirit of God, my whole life would feel like running in this darkness.
Beyond the curve, we run a hill, and Kevin slows for me, even though he could run it much faster without me. This is what he says without words, what I know: Being with me matters more to him than how fast we go. Our conversation gathers deeper things, and I drop a word, letting it fall while I catch my breath. He picks it up for me, turning it on his tongue, and we continue on, together. All of this happens with such subtle grace I never even think about how much stronger he is than me. I wouldn’t notice at all except for the soft spill of Light illuminating everything and making it beautiful.
There are places along the way where it’s not even safe to run on the road. We meander to the sidewalk, choosing its cracks and uneven surfaces over the threat of traffic. The clouds drift like a shroud over the moon, and I begin to remember the threat of a storm. In places, bending trees block out even the glow of streetlights, but my mirk-adjusted eyes still manage at least to deliniate the boundaries of the sidewalk. And then the cars come thundering by with their contrived shining, one of them the paper guy’s battered four-door, its one good headlight pouring at us like a spotlight.
I am blind.
I have to focus on the backs of Kevin’s shoes, on his heels rising and falling, to be able to stay on the path. I know the sidewalk curves, but that’s all I know, and it feels like I am running right into nothing, like any moment I will lose my footing and fall hard into emptiness. Pass. Just pass on by, so I can see.
“Oh, that’s awful,” I say out loud. And from the darkness ahead of me, Kevin says, “But that’s how it is, isn’t it?”
“How it is?”
“When we reflect a better Light, everyone can see through the darkness…”
And it’s beautiful, I’m thinking, because I know he means the moon.
“…but when we flood the road with our own false light, everyone just goes blind.”