The Busk, or why I run before dawn

Posted on January 4, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


There are a dozen reasons to run before dawn.   There’s no traffic.  Car exhaust and other pollution haven’t elevated to choking level.  Running sets your metabolism, you get the day’s run out of the way, it’s mental preparation for the day.  These reasons all ring true for me, but there’s something more.  With each sunrise I am reminded that every day is a busk.

In spring when the corn began to ripen, some American Indian tribes held a busk, a cleansing ceremony whose purpose was, in large part, renewal.  Tribe members cleaned out their homes and threw all broken or unwanted items into a communal heap, which they burned. A new fire was kindled, and from it all the fires in town were kindled.  During the ceremony, all offenses except murder were forgiven, and a new year began.

The Unity Church practices a ritual with a similar purpose:  The Burning Bowl.  In this New Year’s ceremony, individuals make two lists, one of the things they need to get rid of, and the other of their intentions for the year.  The first list is burned; the second sealed, to be read later.

Both rituals serve the same purpose as New Year’s resolutions do for many of us.  A new year promises a clean slate, the potential to do things right, set new goals.  It’s a chance to start life anew. The opportunity to remake ourselves into something better, stronger.  (Faster.)

Some seem to think that if they don’t set New Year’s resolutions, they’ve missed their chance for change.  But we don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve for that clean slate.  We get a new beginning every day.

Each day that I get to run before dawn, I am reminded of this.  A sunrise is like an opening hand, pink fingers flaming across the sky, releasing a new day.  The most brilliant dawns remind me of a fire eating through the detritus of the previous day, cleansing it of the good and bad, clearing the way for new growth.

One reason running fills me with gratitude–I get to witness this.  A new beginning, every day.  Another chance to live right, do right.  Another day I am blessed with.

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