“How much farther?” she asks, plunging her paddle half-halfheartedly into the St. Croix.
How many times have I asked that of you, when I want the work to end, or at least, glimpse a landmark promising the end?
In this case, it’s a bridge spanning the river at Osceola. I can’t remember how many miles it is to the bridge, but we’ve barely begun.
“If you think about it in terms of the end,” I tell her, “you won’t be fully present to the journey.”
I’m beginning to sound like you.
I want to know, how did you do it? How, in your humanness, did you manage to be fully present to the hordes of people who needed attention to their pains and sorrows and hungers, all physical, emotional, and spiritual at once? How did you get in a boat and cross from one town to another, without thinking about the third one to come?
Already this weekend I have gone from work to a three-stage bachelorette party to an overnight camping trip with church kids, and that doesn’t include all of what’s happening on Sunday.
I want to be fully present to my friend’s approaching marriage, the vaults of preparing, moving, adding, living with a boy–all that entails physically, emotionally, spiritually. I don’t want to think about waking up at 7 and packing for a camping trip.
Now here I am, climbing rocks and canoeing rivers, undone by the affection of these six girls, who all want to sleep in my tent, ride in my car, paddle in my canoe. Sitting on a rock overlooking the water, I want to hear about softball and gymnastics, about YouTube videos I’ve never seen and couldn’t possibly see the humor in.
I want to run on the trails and explore the rocks and teach young hearts how to venture into adventure because they trust you to protect them. I want to lead them outside their comfortable, convenient world and into yours, where the sun winks through yellowing leaves and the trees are a hundred shades of green reflected on the water. They don’t realize they are coming to me sensing the life from a source they haven’t discovered yet.
People did that to you, I think. They sensed the life the Father gave you. You poured it out to them, all the way to death, that they might find the Father.
Already I can feel the weight of demand creeping up my throat, threatening to suffocate. The weariness of desire running headlong into limitation. I so want to be fully present to everyone. But I am too limited.
Is that when you disappeared to the bluffs? Instead of sailing to the third town, you went to the hills to find your Father. You asked him for strength, for power. For your divinity. And inevitably you were interrupted by your disciples or crowds of people.
Oh, tender Heart…
I will sit at your feet and listen.
Teach me how to be present in the midst of chaos.
Teach me how to love in my exhaustion.
Show me how to absorb the need and release them to your care, where my love ends and yours swallows them whole to make them whole.
Loosen my grip on the end of life’s struggle, so I can look at what I’m paddling in and see that your love is in this.