An arm, which had fallen asleep because it was tucked under a giant head, flailed around, trying to hit the snooze button. Cursing from the other side of the bed showed his wife’s displeasure. Even the dog reshuffled at the end of the bed.
Three books, a pair of glasses and an empty drinking glass hit the floor. Finally the alarm clock was silenced. Frank Foster’s feet hit the frosty floor frustrated. “^*$%,” he said, tried to keep the alliteration going.
It was time to go run.
Frank liked to run in the dark. First, he wore tights — which made him look like sausage crammed into a casing. Second, he wore tights. A grown-man, other than Superman, should not wear tights. Particularly if you looked like Frank Foster did. He put on his man-hose and laced up his running shoes. “Thank God it is dark,” he thought as he caught his bulky reflection in the mirror.
Frank liked running like your average tabby cat loves a bath, which is to say, not much. But he did it anyway. He strapped on his watch, put on a hoodie and tried to stretch a little bit. Soon it would be just him and the stars.
Some people run to lose weight. Some people run to improve their health. Frank ran to get out of the house. It was his one hour of peace. He had a hilly five-mile course of sanctuary mapped out.
Frost covered the neighborhood, making the light of the full moon illuminate it even more than normal. Fog slinked along the ground. He imagined it parting behind him as he ran up the short hill to the right of his house. He could see his breath in front of him. It was bone-chilling cold this morning. Cold enough to keep amateur runners inside. But not Frank. He was a man on a mission. His heart rate, like his breath, settled into a constant rhythm.
Two and a half miles later, he came to a dirt road. Off to his left was a thicket of pines and beyond them was a giant reservoir. The moon’s light reflected off its choppy water. It looked like God had sprinkled diamonds across the waves. To his right was a smaller pond. It was protected more from the slight breeze than the bigger body of water, so its surface was smooth as glass. The stars reflected off is still surface, looking like lanterns sprinkled on the ground. A beaver jumped into the water in the distance, starting Frank. The ripples traveled across the pond, soon reaching the shoreline nearby. Frank the crank, as his wife called him, lumbered down the road. He heard his feet crunch the pea-sized gravel. There was something very satisfying about running on a dirt road. He felt one step closer to the earth.
Up ahead, right next to the spillway for the pond’s dam, was a dock. Made of still-green treated pine, it jutted out into the water. On it was a small bench and a sign that read “no diving.” Frank looked at the rocks that lined the dam and thought that was good advice. This was a daily even for him. Every morning Frank ran to this dock. And Frank got down on his knees and had a conversation with God. He called it his prayer dock. The view of the still pond was more spiritual than a thousand cathedrals to Frank.
Every morning he prayed. And every morning he asked for stuff. And every morning he was convinced his prayers weren’t answered.
Frank was a frustrated man. And the lack of an answer, like his life as a whole, weighed heavily on him. He had job problems. Marriage problems. Kid problems. Health problems. The saw the life’s glass as not only half-empty. He saw it as cracked.
But something was different this morning. Maybe it was the full moon above. Or maybe it was burn in his lungs and legs. But Frank felt more alive this morning. On this Epiphany morning, Frank had an, well, epiphany.
He ran out on the prayer dock and just stopped. The only sound he could hear was the beating of his heart. Frank was alive. Frank knew that in its own right was a precious gift. And the chubby runner in tights just looked up at the sky and said, “Thank you.”
Frank felt gratitude.
He felt warmth flow over him in a way he had never felt before.
He quickly checked to make sure he had not had an accident in his pants. No. It was something else.
He smiled and yelled to the top of his lungs, “THANK YOU!!!” His voice echoed across the pond, causing a dog to bark in the distance and lights to come on in the houses across the water.
Then Frank looked up at the star-filled sky. A single meteorite shot across it, burning up as it kissed the horizon.
Frank Foster knew he was the luckiest man in the world. The chubby man in tights turned around, left all his “problems” on the prayer dock and gratefully ran home.