The rest of it can wait

I took a long walk through a cemetery today at lunch-time. The sun was buttery and bright, and the stone bench at the monument for Psalm 23 was rough and warm as I sat on it and leaned back against the rock. I closed my eyes and turned my face up toward the sky. The wind was blowing cool but the sun was stronger. For the first time in thirteen days I felt some peace. I've spent the past two weeks in near-constant prayer for one person or another, myself included, but the prayers never felt connected. They were incoherent, desperate cries for help.

And that's what brought me there in the first place. I woke up this morning after only two and a half hours sleep with my body shaking and my eyes burning. I shook so hard I could barely get dressed. Because I felt so weak, I made myself eat; peanut butter toast with honey. I am down thirteen pounds since April 9th. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when you lose 13 pounds in 13 days because your stomach hurts so much that even the thought of eating is nauseating, it couldn't be called healthy weight loss. I worked the food down and drank a cup of water. I followed the morning routine; woke my daughters, drove them to school. Then I headed for work. By that time the grief was overwhelming and the tears that have not been far away since April 9th welled to the surface. I got to work and forced myself to focus on the day. Routine tasks are always the meat of a Monday, and I strove to lose myself in them. By the time I left work for the bank to make the Monday deposit, I was tired and weak again. My head was throbbing. My shoulders burned and ached. I picked up a sandwich for lunch and was headed back to work when the tears started again. The thought of food was sickening but I was hungry. I was tired. I was in pain. I was broken open and devastated. I heard myself say "God, I just need some help." Tears came again and I started to turn back into the parking lot at work, but something stopped me. A voice. It said "go walk."

That's nuts, though. I was way too tired to walk. So I pulled into the parking lot of a small church that had picnic tables and a pavilion. I sat down there and forced the sandwich down. It sat uneasily in my stomach and I gazed out on the bright, breezy day. Again I thought about going back to work, and again that voice spoke inside my head: "go walk". So I got back into my car and drove a little farther. There is a large cemetery on the left, just below the little church where I had lunch. I parked in the shade and I got out and started walking. The place was deserted. On the far side of the field, there was a tent pavilion and groupings of flowers that marked the burial site of some new resident. I decided not to go that way, and instead cut across the center of the graveyard, past a life-sized statue of Christ with his hands outstretched toward me. I passed it by and slipped between two huge fir trees, where I came upon a secluded little grotto and altar made of pinkish sandstone, holding up a white stone carved to look like a book, with the famous words of the 23rd Psalm engraved there.

I sat down on one of the stone benches, closed my eyes, and I tried to pray. I couldn't get words to come. I couldn't focus my thoughts. After a few minutes I gave up trying. I just sat. Red-gold lace encompassed my vision behind closed eyelids. I turned my face up toward the sun and breathed deep. The sunlight was hot but the wind was cool and fresh. It smelled like spring - that delicious combination of leaves and flowers and cut grass that only really happens in April. After a few moments, I felt a presence there with me. I did not open my eyes, but I felt the touch of a strong, warm hand on my hair, across the top of my head. I felt it. No one was there, but I could still feel the touch of that hand. The voice that had told me to walk now said "breathe deep."

I drank in air. I felt the knots of tension loosen in my stomach. I felt some of my weariness ease. The grief and fear I have been carrying around dissipated as though someone had lifted a physical burden off my shoulders. Suddenly I knew that everything would be all right. I could feel it. It was in God's hands. I might not get the outcome I hope for, but God was there, right in the midst of all that pain. God was there.

It came to me that the breeze blowing around me was the breath of the Spirit, and by it's touch my sorrow had been eased and my tiredness lifted. In that moment I knew that Christ was with me, his love was all around me. The help I had been begging for had come in those moments in the quiet garden, hidden behind the fir trees.

My problems were not solved. My sorrow is not gone. My pain is still there, and still real; by the time I got home today, my right shoulder and arm hurt so much that breathing was a chore. But it didn't matter. I could see clearly what really mattered, and what was important was love, forgiveness, and renewal. The rest of it can wait.

Comments

  1. alot of time's when that happen's specially when u 'Fast' for day's... u will have strong dream's... when u do so again holler at mare.. n i will hold a fire for u on ur journey so ur not so drained... :)

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