The alarm slams me out of peaceful sleep. My hand reaches to turn it off as my heart begins to murmur: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae...my prayers trail off as sleep claims me once more.
I jolt awake. Thirteen minutes have passed. I need to go now. Flinging on clothes in the dark, slipping my feet into the unfamiliar enclosure of running shoes, I slide into the cool air that is lit by touches of sunlight.
Plodding down the street, I breathe in deeply. Brisk air mixes with a slight tinge of cigarette smoke. I round the corner, and see my neighbor, who greets the morning from the chair on his porch.
The neighborhood birds call out in greeting, too. Chirp chirp. Tweet tweet. Their voices blend with the rumble of cars and my pattering feet; a chorus to greet the day. I move under a canopy of leaves and see dogwalkers with their energetic animals. I inhale the crisp, light air. My throat begins to dry. Can I be done yet? I groan, grimacing at the timer I clutch with my hand. But alas, I've not even run for half my time-so I jog on.
My mind begins to ruminate on the beauty, the variety, the extraordinary nature of the world that embraces me. My legs move robotically, at a snail's pace. I push forward, focusing my eyes on the path ahead, on the blue sky above, on the nature that surrounds me. I bring my heart to God, offering this beauty and struggle as a prayer. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
At last, I round the final bend. I surge forward, hope rising in my chest as I spot our car. My feet tap our driveway, and I slow to a walk, breathing deeply as I gaze at my street. I may not have run far that morning, yet as I walk to the front door, I feel as if I'm returning from a long journey. This was such a fantastic way to begin the day, I think. Why don't I do this more often?
If I hold the glory of the morning hours close to my heart, will I be motivated to shake off sleep and run in God's incredible creation? Furthermore, if I hold the beauty and joyful hope of Heaven in my heart and mind, will I be motivated to leave my sinful ways behind and strive for greater holiness and union with God?