Running reflections

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com).   Joel Iskiwitch and John DeMott, authors of the  “What can you do?”  sidebar, are congregants at TE.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

It is dark at 5 a.m. On Monday morning it was not much better at 6 a.m. I was scheduled to meet a friend for a run that morning. When it became apparent she was a no-show, I started off by myself. 

Naturally, I had left my light behind so I was forced to pay particular attention to my steps. I went a familiar route, trusting my memory and instinct. Slowly, I abandoned my strong desire to return to the comfort of my bed, and headed east hoping for a crack of sunlight from behind the ominous clouds.

I often run alone and am grateful for the solitude and strength it brings. Yet, on this particular morning, I was not lonely. Sandwiched between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I was left to reflect upon these Days of Awe. In fact, they seemed even more daunting in the dark. 

I ran feeling the presence of a fellow runner. I ran sensing the emotions and feelings from two services already completed. I ran with recent conversations running through my memory. I ran with a “to-do” list for the days ahead. I paused at the overpass of 270 taken back by the rush of traffic and the glares of headlights rushing to destinations north and south. 

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My run was not particularly fast that morning. Back at my car I rushed to return to the solitude of my home where I knew everyone would still be asleep. And I silently thanked God for this gift. I was not alone.