It happens occasionally, this pre-dawn paranoia. Yesterday was long and perhaps I said some things I shouldn’t have.
Now those careless words won’t leave me be.
I’ve been under the broom tree for a few days now. Like that illustrious prophet, Elijah, I’ve been feeling discouraged…having a bit of a pity party.
The thoughts continue to flood in, so I do the only thing that seems to work at these times: try to outrun them.
The moon is still out when I breach the stillness, the white of a sunless sky just beginning to filter the horizon. Fog gathers in pools around my legs as I take those first steps, moisture clings to skin, breath is snaky tendril trailing.
I pour it out with each step, use that anxious energy to propel me forward.
I run until my tired legs and oxygen gasping brain can only give one word, one Name.
I repeat it over and over; let it become the rhythm of my steps–while fingers find that tiny silver reminder that jostles against my skin.
My mind turns to the book we’ve been reading, and my heart turns inside of me.
My faith in the Gift’s return is wavering.
What if I am tired of giving?
The water in the reservoir lake is dark and murky, no sun play on its surface. A strange odor lingers. A heron stands erect, watching me with one eye.
I run on.
God tended to Elijah. Sent an angel to feed and water him under that broom tree.
Then He gave the prophet more work to do.
The thought causes a tightness in my chest.
And when God sent him to call Elisha as his successor, Elijah said,
Gift-living is hard.
Lewis Hyde does not speak in terms of emotional consequences of leaving our gifts behind without a promise.
I feel them today.
If only I could run to a cave and hear the whisper of God as Elijah did…
What would He say?
Probably the same thing he said then.
“What are you doing here, Laura?”
Translation: “What’s the matter with you? Why are you feeling sorry for yourself? Get back to work.”
But only after He’d let me rest under the broom tree. And sent His angel to tend me. And listened.
He always listens.
As I come upon my last mile and a half, the hills take on a rosy glow. The sun peeps up over their swells, her rounded head rising rapidly.
I think of what Chesterton said about monotony:
I have never considered a sunrise monotonous.
Not like the details of my life.
Sighing, I will my body up this hill, the last one before home.
As I approach our home, a small hound dog emerges from the meadow. Her head down, she approaches me, tail wagging.
I bend to cup her ears.
“Where did you come from, sugar?”
She reeks. Smells like the reservoir.
She follows me up the porch steps and whines when I go inside.
But when I return with food and water, she is gone, following the scent of some invisible trail.
I pray she finds her way back home.
Set the bowls down.
And leave them…just in case.
I did it. I outran the bad thoughts.
Restored, my heart thrills in this knowing: this gift-life will never be monotonous.