Advent 3.5: Morning walks


Just as my dog has made me more aware of waiting, so too has she made me a more familiar acquaintance with darkness.

Not long after 6 a.m., in any weather but a downpour, I find myself pulling on my long underwear, jacket, hat, and leashing her up for an early morning walk. Our street, which has no sidewalks and becomes a chaotic cut-through during rush hour, is refreshingly silent before the sun comes up.

I put on a reflective vest and carry a small flashlight, but Lucy doesn't seem to need anything lighting her way. She tromps along as quickly and happily as if it were a sunshine-laden afternoon in the middle of July.

I try to follow her easygoing lead, sometimes flipping off the flashlight switch, but there's that slippery patch of leaves and then the rising root I tripped over a year ago, my knees still bear the scars, and is that a garbage can up ahead or an animal?...

It's not long before I turn the small soft light back on to show my steps. Sometimes, darkness can be unnerving.

At certain moments Lucy slows up, ears perked and limbs frozen in place--she sees (or smells?) something I cannot. Is she excited or nervous, eager or scared? I can never quite tell, but sometimes I wonder how long she'd stand there if I didn't start to gently tug her away, or what she'd do if I let her off the leash entirely. Would she dash into the darkness to follow her senses? Or turn away and keep walking on towards home? 

I've come to love these first-thing walks far better than evening ones--the rush hour cut-through that I mentioned makes me long for still pre-sunrise darkness over the harsh hit of headlights (sometimes light can be unnerving, too). And along with the calm-filled silence, maybe it's this early dark I love because I know the slow rising light of morning is on its way. There's still another hour yet, but there's something within that half hour before shower or breakfast or running out the door that makes me hopeful--for a new day, for the excitement of the trotting canine at my side, for the refresh of blood in veins and beat in heart.

Light's coming. And even before it shows its face, or any sign that it will again appear, we are walking toward it, trusting that it will. Until then, I begin to learn the blooming peace of the dark.