A daily run is so much more than just a few miles on a road, it is the peaceful moments that cultivate who I am.
Many miles into my 6 am weekday run I spy an older woman in her dark long pants and white shirt. Sheltered by a sunhat she is bent over engrossed within her morning work of weeding. Her box of tools consisting of a spade, hoe, and trowel was within feet of her position. She never looked up, just kept bent over, nurturing her garden. The hot August sun did not give her a break even in the early morning hours. We were the two lonely people out working in the morning air as the early sun rose.
I was caught off guard because she was in a huge field that at a one person weeding rate would be endless. Why was she working so hard at something so repetitive and vast that it seemed meaningless?
Suddenly, I was struck by the reality that I too was a lonely gardener weeding my vast field. Having not seen another runner in the town at that early morning hour for the past week. I was that one runner that encircled the small Minnesota town without skipping a wake-up call. Each step was another weed pulled, each morning's run was another row in the field. With each November becoming my fall season of harvest. The planning of the spring, hot summer runs, and the never giving up attitude of a sport that goes for all 12 months, is my gardening.
Many would have driven their cars quickly by on their way to work without even a glance over the field. No one would notice a lonely gardener in a field that machines should tend to. Her work only had meaning for herself. As my work only has meaning for myself, valuing my own harvest without performances worthy of notice.
I was adding up 12,000 weeds pulled or steps taken each morning. Why was I so diligent at this meaningless or meaningful work? After each breath in, I was breathing out stress, frustration, sadness, and worry. Without those releases, I would be bound and chained by my life's disappointments and inconsistencies. The release of expectations and the birth of new creative solutions made my day approachable. By halfway through my hour tending my garden, my body, I felt alive again. I could see beauty and knew my diligence would reap rewards.
My 6am gardener in a sunhat with her garden tools near at hand and I are one and the same. When I rise in the dark and kept moving toward the door and trail beckoning my name, my gardener and I rise together, step together, knowing that our diligence will reap the fall harvest.
Not alone in my vast garden.