Friday, March 30, 2012
Olive Trees and Sweet Memory
I ran today between a row of tall olive trees while the sun peeked out and the breeze was soft on my skin. My life, for the moment, was still. No rehearsals, bickering children, middle-of-the-night screaming, constant fighting against the defiant. I was not in demand by a thousand different things, and could actually hear the lyrics of the songs playing to my ears. My heart rate was up, the sun felt hot upon my black sweatshirt, and my breath was hard to control. But it wasn't as hard to breathe as it is to breathe in real life. No, I'm nearly stifled in the day-to-day, oppressed by the ever present "You will never be good enough."
But this morning, I let that go. I shrugged off my own critiques, my own misguided and sinful obsessiveness. I asked to be delivered from myself, "my hateful thoughts" as Bethany Dillon sings. And as my shin was being pierced by invisible darts and my ankle cried out for rest, I forged on and kept the forward motion. "Just a little farther, to the end of the trees."
And every pound of my feet on the path takes away the anguish of loneliness and frustrations and despair and self-loathing. Making way to see God's grace and hear his Voice gently calling me. "Child, be still." I keep running, but my soul quiets and rests.
I've come to the road, and my knees and the old ankle injury remind me to take it easy. So I slow to a walk, and use my remaining time alone to soak in, admire, and breathe in God's creation. Back through the olive trees. Blue sky laden with white clouds, sunshine peaking through the leaves and branches of my favorite tree. And the breeze, cooling my skin and washing peace over me.
The washing peace, the lovingkindness of an infinitely loving and abundantly kind God.
I wanted this peace-giving breeze to be God's hand on my cheek, under my hands holding His. A gentle touch that needs no words, but speaks of water-tower filled care and grace.
I blink and flashback. A memory from my little girl-hood. The same age as my Lela, 10 years old. Details are fuzzy, like a dream tried to be remembered. But I remember the little boy. He was my friend. He talked to me, listened to me, and offered his help. I remember his brown hair, and that his name was Phillip. And Phillip listened to me when I felt I needed a place to go. And offered his family's little shed to hide out in. "Someone cares about me."
His brown hair, shaggy over his forehead, offering his inhalor to me when I started wheezing during a blow-up of dust. So sweet.
There wasn't much else. But I remember his voice, filled with youthful innocence, soft and compassionate. A small, sweet light tucked away in my childhood memories.
The breeze came again, this time whispering, "I was always with you. I am always with you, beloved one." Back then I felt alone and abandoned, even when I wasn't. Now, I often feel alone and abandoned, even when I'm not.
This world tells its inhabitants that Alone and Abandoned means Unworthy and Undesirable. Unworthy and Undesirable because of Not Good Enough. And Not Good Enough brings out the deepest, darkest, death-causing disease of Self Obsession. Sin at its sneakiest.
Oh confession. How you sting, yet bring healing.
And God. He spoke to me with Phillips small, boyhood voice. "I'm here."
The breeze, a warm soothing washcloth with the fragrance of peace to ease my aching soul, breathed restoration. Deliverance.
The Holy Spirit filling where a moment ago, emptied.
I praise His Holy Name, the One who created the universe and beyond, but takes tender care of me.
at 10:07 PM