Knowing I needed to be in Topeka by ten o’clock yesterday morning, I woke up two hours earlier than I needed to. Instead of getting frustrated by my untimely alertness, I got up, showered and headed over to the office. After taking care of a few things, I drove over to the lot where the college fleet is parked and picked up the minivan. At least an hour earlier than I needed to leave, I headed out on US-77.
Just north of El Dorado, I saw the first glow of dawn sprouting from the eastern sky. By the time I hit the middle of the Flint Hills, the first red edge of the sun broke the rim of the horizon. I kept driving and looking off toward the east. That glow burnished miles of prairie grass, giving an orange cast to the whole scene. Tilting down the low slope of a long grade, I rounded a wide curve and saw the sun half-risen. A single cottonwood tree rose up high and dark by the edge of a large pond. The un-rippled surface of the water mirrored the pale blue of a higher sky. The bare dirt and stone of a gully cut away below the road bank.
I’m usually in too much of a hurry on such trips, eager to get from here to there or back again. This time, though, I knew I had an extra hour or more.
I decided to spend a little bit of it, standing on the shoulder beside the van, ignoring the rush and rumble of the occasional truck ripping downgrade on I-35. I wished I had a whole day and a healed knee so that I could walk for hours in this expanse of sod and ditches, stony fields and rocky creeks. I’d climb up the steep edges of bluffs just to see the next few miles of whatever waited beyond the long run of the ridge pasture. Then, I’d hike on to the next creek, the next bluff, the next climb.
Instead, I stood there, red sun shining on my face, immersed in the glory of this new day. This day the Lord had made and invited me into, this day of grace and glory. I didn’t think, “This is going to be a good day.” I knew it already was.