Here, now.

6.12.11

I was about to start a run yesterday, when I noticed the most beautiful, free-fluttering, yellow butterfly. I peered closer, lifting my leg towards my back to stretch, and pause long enough to notice the black and fellow fur, completely covering what used to be caterpillar, but now has blossomed into this spotted-winged creature.

Being still, like I was in that moment, is hard for me. I don’t know very often how to be present. It’s something that I talk about- being passionate, being fully alive, not missing your life. Maybe I should stick to following my own advice. Nevertheless, it’s something I’m working on and something God is trying to teach me, through many experiences and people.

One of them is my youth pastor, whom I met with last week, and I bought a copy of her beautiful new book, “Unhaling.” The last chapter is titled, “be here now.”

Be here now. Be here now.

The words mull over and over and swirl around my brain, as my feet take to the pebbled trail. “BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE HERE NOW!!!” I shout out to God, tears mingling with sweat. “My grant position ends in April; I have no idea where my career is going; I don’t know exactly which grad program I should go into… everything feels like it’s changing…… And why, God, WHY, for the life of me can’t I stop thinking about Africa, I trip I’ve been on nearly FOUR years ago?! And why can’t a day go by without me thinking of HIV, and images of orphans, and girls being trafficked and sold into sex slavery, and unbearable poverty. WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING ME WITH THIS STUFF, GOD!!!?” I shout indignantly as my feet hit the pavement harder.

Be here now.
Be here now.

I pick up my pace. Bikers, runners, joggers, and walkers smile at me. But I can’t smile back. My 19-year-old self would have gladly smiled at a fly, but I didn’t feel like smiling at anyone in that moment. And I feared depression has awakened from its nap and once again reared its ugly head, like a hissing snake, slithering in the darkness through a crack in an unlocked door. I quickly slam the door shut, but fear its hissing, mocking voice will come out again.

Be here now.
Be here now.

A red, red cardinal stretches its wings, moving from the path into the shaded branches of the trees.

Be here now.
Be here now.

Squirrels hang upside-down above me, tip-toeing along tree branches, exposing their white bellies.

Be here now.
Be here now.

Bono whispers, then SHOUTS through my headphones, of a journey of running, crawling, scaling these city walls… when, “DAMN IT!!” I mutter out loud. My iPod died, battery gone. Embarrassed, I pray no one has heard me, as I notice little kids with training wheels biking around me. I fear their parents are secretly glaring at me, wondering what my problem is, and successfully avoid eye contact with anyone.

Be here now.
Be here now.

Now that silence has officially overtaken my headphones, I can hear birds chattering to each other in trees along the path, like neighbors across the street catching up over gardening and trash day.

I can now hear cyclers’ dinging bike bells, warning me that they’re about to pass and I envision myself on my next triathlon. This one will be a half ironman and I visualize myself swimming, biking, and running my way through those 70.3 miles.

Be here now.
Be here now.

I watch as a young girl feels the peddling sensation of her knees going up, down, up, down, her dad smiling behind her, as she tries to bike without training wheels for the first time. They’re smiling and laughing and he is not letting go.

Be here now.
Be here now.

My feet hit the pavement harder. I look ahead. About 20 feet in front of me to my left is a deer trotting merrily along the path. “Bambi?” I think out loud, as it leaps over the grass down to the water for a cool drink.

Be here now.
Be here now.

My feet are moving faster now and my tears have stopped and sweat is pouring down my face.

Be here now.
Be here now.

My finish line is getting closer. My chest is pounding. My toenail, bruised and falling off, screams at me.

Be here now.
Be here now.

I lengthen my stride, pumping my arms as swiftly as I can and cross my finish line. Overcome with a mix of sheer exhaustion and endorphins, I pause to catch my breath. I look up to the sky and feel sunlight touch my face, knowing, deep in my heart, that I have just spent the past seven miles with my wonderful Father in Heaven. My spirit, enmeshed with His, in an intimate holy embrace.

Be here now.
Be here now.

I stretch my hands out to my Maker, and, for the first time, I smile.

“You are here now,” says God. “You are my child.

And,

I

LOVE

YOU.”

And I walk to the car, heart rate now steady, smiling, here now.

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