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Friday, November 11, 2016

To Whom I Go

When I was a teenager, I would get this urgent impulse to run. I don't mean literally run but rather to leave the room, the situation, the gathering, and head to where the anxiety would disappear into the quietness of the place I'd found. I remember vividly one time, sitting in choir, back when the auditorium looked like a proper church, and my baby brother with his friends were outside playing in the trees and generally having a good time. Then the impulse came and I had to leave. I escaped to one of the four sentry trees, clambering up into its branches to hide from passersby.

We had the perfect retreat custom built in our backyard. It was a tall cement block covering the water treatment plant that faced the Mediterranean Sea. When I clambered up, there was plenty of space to spread out my journal and Bible and I would sit there, legs dangling off the side, as I scribbled teenage angst onto college-ruled paper. This was my escape--albeit it wasn't so much a physical one because less than 50 steps behind me was home--but it provided a place of quietness where I could go.

The impulse hasn't left me as I've grown older. I've learned to curb it by pulling out a half-empty notebook, finding a favourite gel pen, and once again teasing out the emotions into words that half-heartedly attempt to put description to feelings. During rare times in the 17 years I lived on a very small campus, I would pack a bag with my writing utensils and Bible and head down a leaf-lined path by the flume to find a tree I could sit under. I never went very far though for fear of large wildlife.

Here, I've felt it come and go. I cannot attribute yet a particular reason to this feeling but I know that when it comes, it refuses to be assuaged except by recognition. There are times I escape to the roof where looking down on the night lights calms my spirit. There are times I escape into music, as Stand by Rascal Flatts and other haunting songs by country bands echo my restless questionings. There are times I still write for words will never leave my soul.

Tonight the impulse came once again. I knew distinctly why it had insisted on making itself known. I also knew that I couldn't run. I was battling the flu so sitting on the roof in the cold night air wasn't ideal. And then I remembered that Saturday afternoon, sitting in a tree, and I wished I was back in that time again.

Sometimes I wonder how God sees this. How He sees me. Is He shaking His head, wondering if I'll ever grow up and stand still to face the uncertainty rather than responding to a feverish urge to escape? Or is He reaching out His hand to me, ready to run alongside me? Somehow I imagine that God is the latter and that even as He is doing so, He is gently whispering to my heart that one day I will stop running. One day I will realize--He was Who I was running to all along.

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