When you’ve had one of those days, where nothing seems right and your heart is raw. When everything seems pointless and hopeless and overwhelming. And all of the things you crave that will make your heart feel better – the warm hand of a lover covering yours, the spray of salt water on your face, the fuzzy hug of a beloved pet – when none of these things are within arms reach…and it feels like your heart is this chapped and bleeding desert of a thing throbbing with despair.
So you run for the trail to run away the trail of tears. You pound the pavement hoping to pound away your troubles.
And I just run on the winding path until I get to the ten-foot wall, an obstacle erected for a summertime race. In a rush of adrenaline I scramble up to the top and for a moment I’m lost in the glory of the sky as I straddle the point between ascending and descending. And then I make a mistake, I look straight down and remember I’m scared of heights. I’m petrified, I’m stuck, and there is nobody around to help me down. I panic, lose sight of my hands right in front of me, my feet attached to these frozen limbs they call legs.
Finally, I find my breath and I find my focus and I find a way to slide down without losing control and tumbling to the dirt. And when I make it to the bottom I mutter my thanks and then I make myself do it twice more for good measure – for how else do we overcome our fears except by practicing the overcoming of them over and over again?
Because that’s how it feels in life sometimes – we make it to a high point and then we lose focus and what’s ahead seems so unsure and scary, just because our feet can’t quite touch the ground right away. But we have to focus and find a way down, have faith that our steps our guided by someone bigger than us.
I continue on the path, walking now. Walking by the water. They say a storm is coming, and the geese are squawking and flying away and the clouds are covering the sky that was so blue earlier, and the wind is whipping the strands of hair that have strayed from the rest of my ponytail. I zip up my jacket as far as it will go, and I feel all of the anxiety in my heart move into my face and my eyes. I imagine I must look like a troubled and sorrowful soul to those passing by.
I feel drops of rain as they hit my face and the only thing I can think of is that these must be the tears of my Savior, telling me that he has known many sorrows too. He knows and he shares my tears and he wants to brush them away with the rough fingertips of his nail-scarred hands.
I make it to my favorite bench in the park – the one with the two old trees that stand together, the branches of one all tangled up in the branches of the other like the unapologetic embrace of two seasoned old lovers; the one that gives you a view of the whole lake. My anxiety makes it to the brims of my eyes and overflow. I hug my knees and look out at the lake as the wind whips harder and stronger and faster. And I talk to him and ask him what he has to say to me this time – this daughter of so little faith, this bride whose heart strays to what separates me from him.
And he says, “I love you so much. I love you no matter what.”
And me, surprised, expecting condemnation, reply, “But how can I love you better?”
And he says, “Believe the way I love you.”
And I’m silenced. Silenced and still, hoping above all hopes that one day I will learn and believe. Because the truth is, this plain and homely spirit still cannot quite comprehend the steadfast and unconditional love of a lover so strong and sure. Isn’t quite sure how to cherish and accept this unapologetic display of affection. Still wavers in knowing her worth as a woman.
I get up to walk back to my car. Walk along the chain link fence that surrounds this part of the water and I look up and over my shoulder, and there are slivers of gold in the sky – rosy, glowing gold piercing through the gray clouds. The sun-rays hit the water, making a golden path straight from the sky to me.
I smile and laugh aloud at this gift, and my smile grows bigger as I keep walking and the sun and its golden ribbon in the water keep trailing beside me. They follow me to the shore where the water ends and dirt begins and the gap in the sky grows bigger and the sun shines more radiantly through the naked branches of trees. When my feet leave the trail and hit the parking lot pavement, the sun follows me still – and it is bright and no longer obscured and it’s as if the heavens are opening up to shine on me.
And I think I must look insane, because I can’t stop looking behind me and I can’t stop smiling at the sight of this risen sun. Because really, it’s the Risen Son and he’s pursuing me. He’s breaking through the storm and the clouds; the storm of my heart. He’s following me straight to wherever I’m going – crashing through the fears and the cares of this world, shining straight into my aching soul.
I wonder how I will ever come to terms with a pursuit this persistent, a love this deep. Perhaps the first step is believing it is true…and the answers to the rest of the mystery will be handed over. I pray one day it will be so. I pray today is the day.