run away. {musings from my vacation on the beach}

[written Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at Dania Beach, FL]

Run away.

at Dania Beach, watching the sunrise

Run, run away.

These little words chase me wherever I go.  In chaos, in solitude.

Sitting crouched on a train station floor in Asia, with tears streaming down my face, anxiety eating me alive.  Stretching on the pavement outside a Floridian condo with salty ocean breeze blowing my hair, kinky from a humid morning run, peace soaked clear through my skin.  Curled up on my bedroom floor, alone one night in a Midwest city I call my own, full of people who share love with me.

They always start as a whisper, the little creeps.  But if I give them an ounce of credence, they begin to chant  obnoxiously, as if the moment were a musical and needed some appropriate background noise for the scene at hand.  Run away. Run away.

At first, I scoff, as always.  “What does that even mean? Run away? Ha.  Run away from what?  Goodness and love?  Run away to what? Nothing?”  They are absurd those little creeps.  If the moment is right, however – if I am particularly pensive, or particularly alone, or have an unusual amount of space to just let my mind wander – a whole other slew of questions come rushing like a water that’s been dammed up in a creek from the debris of a storm.  One of those branches just came unstuck, and lo and behold here comes a torrent.

“What if I really did run away?  Packed up a few things, left without a word?

Slipped into the night, escaped in silence?

Drove and drove?  Or took a train?

Where would I go?  West of course.

Or north. Why north?  South is warmer.

What would happen?  How far could I get?  Nah, too many people love me.  Everyone would worry.  I could leave a note, saying please don’t chase me down.  But I mean, how fortunate am I? Not everyone in the world can say that too many people love them to let them simply vanish. ”

Run away.  Run away.

“But what if I really did run away? What if I disappeared into thin air?

What if I went into hiding?  What if I went somewhere that no one knew me?

What if I went somewhere there was no one at all?

What if I started completely over?  What if I left every responsibility in the dust?  What if I did the unexpected?

What if I ran away…?”

It’s silly, really, I tell myself when a catch a breath of reality.  I love company so, I can hardly go a few hours by myself.  I cringe every time my usually teeming house is empty, and a mere 3 hours of solitude almost always puts me in the mood for a party. Only twice in 5 years of having a cell phone have I ever gone over on my minutes.  Once, talking to a guy.  Oops.  At least he was a really good guy.  The other time was just now, on an 8-day getaway trip by myself, which happened to fall on the first few days of my monthly minutes cycle.  Somehow, I managed to go 100 minutes over my normal month’s allowance in just a handful of days.  Double oops.  What can I say?  I guess I fall on the extroverted side of the personality line.

The previously dammed up creek catches my brain waves again.  “What if I ran away and really ran away?  Like stopped being a friend of God kind of run away?  What if?”

This part of the conversation in my brain is not altogether that infrequent.  It is however, nearly always quite short-lived.  Let me explain. A few years ago, I read part of Pete Greig’s epic grapple-with-suffering book, God on Mute.  In one of the chapters I read, Pete was describing a time he attempted to dismiss God’s existence, but admitted that in the middle of his motion to not believe in God anymore he found himself praying the most often and most honestly he’d ever had.  I’m fairly certain I laughed out loud, so stunned was I at the way he clearly described precisely what has happened in my own moments of trying out citizenship in doubt country.  The most genuine conversations I’ve ever had with the Lord have come in the occasional minutes when I decide He can’t possibly be real and want to be my friend.  And… I always end up quickly concluding that I can’t possibly stop praying even if I try my darnedest not to.

Run away.  Run away.

“Oh God.  I really don’t want to run away from You.  I know I cannot escape You.  I know You follow me everywhere.  I

know that even ‘if I made my bed in hell, You’d come stay the night.‘  But… what if I really did physically run away, skipped town, disappeared for a long time, and lived a different reality… and what if I wanted to come back home?  What then?”

Today the words of a psalmist dance their merry way into the middle of the run away chant.

“Oh that I had wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest;

yes, I would wander far away;

I would lodge in the wilderness;

I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” *

Yes, yes.  If “Run Away” is the theme song of the musical unfolding, this is the verse of that very song.  I would fly away. I would wander to the wilderness. I would look for shelter from this raging wind and tempest.

Would it surprise you to hear that I’ve done all this musing in a swimsuit and sundress, leaning against a palm tree, overlooking the clearest, bluest seas of south Florida?  Two pelicans just flew over my head.  Oh yes, they did.  Pure bliss.  I make note of this, partially to make you jealous – but mostly to point out that the raging wind and tempest that the psalmist and I speak of are only once in a while external.  More often they swirl about on the inside of my soul.

So how can I run away,

but run away into You?

pondering my life

That is what I am asking this God I can’t seem to stop praying to.  Run, yes.  Crawling never got me anywhere too quickly.  Away, sure.  Away from the

striving and self-sufficiency and turmoil.  How can I escape into the silence of Your peace, leave my responsibilities in the dust that lies at the mountain of Your strength, and hide in Your rest?  How can I disappear forever into the depths of Your love?  I’m not talking a day trip here and there.  I’m talking d-i-s-a-p-p-e-a-r f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

I shake the sand off my Bible and flip through more of these poignant Psalms.  Some often-read, underlined parts catch my eyes:

“But I through the abundance of Your steadfast love, will enter Your

house… You are a stronghold for the oppressed… Wondrously show Your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge… O Lord, all my longing is before You… By day You command Your steadfast love, at night Your song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” *

My friend Chris unwittingly sent me this Scripture yesterday:

“The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.”  *

And it is perfect.  Just perfect.  The ideal ballad to end this musical today.

{*Psalm 55:6, *Psalm 5:7, 9:9, 17:7, 38:9, 42:8, *Exodus 14:14}

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