Morning Grace and Benediction
By Patricia Crisafulli
A prolonged heat wave has sent me out early most days, completing my daily five-mile run at a time when I would normally be at my desk, still in my pajamas. Such weather-related adjustments have impacted my writing a bit, since the early morning hours are prime for creativity. But I faced the choice to run at six-thirty in the morning before temperatures got too hot or to spend an hour on the treadmill or elliptical in the gym. I choose the latter, and tried to adjust without too much complaint. What I discovered over the past several weeks is a gentle pattern of morning wakefulness, heightening awareness that can only benefit my writing. I consider it my morning grace and benediction.
A half-mile into my run this morning along a quiet side street, I heard two blue jays chorusing overhead, a vocal crossfire of shrieking calls. Instantly, I was transported in my mind to Selkirk Shores State Park in northern New York, where the squawks of blue jays always greeted us kids as we ran up the hill from the picnic area to the swings. I could feel in my body the memory of that childhood exhilaration, of having room to run and a gigantic place to play. Had I not been out early with the blue jays this morning, I would have missed that recollection.
At an early hour, I share the street and sidewalk with only light traffic: early commuters en route to the train station or highways; the dog walkers out for the morning constitutional. Each morning I greet several who are familiar by face and habit to me as no doubt I am to them. I wouldn’t recognize them anywhere else, except on that corner or down that block. Yet they have become part of my early morning community. A solitary run need not mean complete solitude.
By the two-mile mark, the sky had noticeably darkened and before I hit three miles the rain began. Wary of a downpour, I felt a tremor of anxiety, but I had no choice except to keep going forward. Thankfully, I ran in a gentle shower that felt so good on my skin, I decided it was nature’s spa therapy. With 80 percent of Illinois in a drought emergency, each raindrop is a rescue for crops and trees, lawns and gardens. When the rain stopped, puddles appeared in sidewalk cracks and in low places where the pavement meets the curb. On my street a squirrel lapped water from a tiny indentation at the crown where the two lanes meet. With no traffic except for me on sneakers, the animal drank in peace.
To think I would have missed all this had I not gone out for a run at six-thirty! If the weather allowed me to run at lunchtime, which is my habit the rest of the year, a crescendo of activity would have muted the quiet sounds of bird calls and a squirrel’s breakfast. And as for me, I am now refreshed in body, mind, and spirit, and ready to start the day.
FaithHopeandFiction is my creative home and my labor of love. I have written stories all my life. As a child, I told myself stories for entertainment, to pass the time, and for comfort. Stories were my way of interpreting and understanding the world around me and to discover the deeper meaning and lessons hidden in even the most ordinary circumstances and relationships.
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