Monday, March 2, 2009

tackling wisdom

I was running Friday morning up on the mountain near my house. It was foggy and cool. The ground was sloshy with brown mud and I had to dodge islands of slushy ice, but I was really loving it all and so was my dog Sophie. She is a great excuse to go up on the mountain. We both thrive up there.

The mountain is a sacred place. I am lighter when I run there. I have clarity that I do not have anywhere else in my day to day life. I find the deeper meaning to little things that happen in my life. Layers of craziness fade softly. Issues seem to get resolved effortlessly. Buried emotions bubble up and escape. I dream, sing songs, and fly. Sophie just runs in loops that intersect the road I am running on but spends most of her time in the forest that flanks each side of the road.

As I have been wrestling with the thought of a new direction for my life, I have been praying for Wisdom. The Bible says you have to go after Wisdom. You have to seek Her out. Sophie is named after Sophia, which is Greek for Wisdom. Wisdom is the feminine aspect of God. I have been seeking out Wisdom for many, many years. At times more so than others, but always seeking out Wisdom for my life as a lot of people do I suppose. And this day was no different. My time running on the mountain is a physical prayer. For some reason, my connection to God is most direct when I am moving through space and time in a physical way. I guess my motor has to be running for my heart to listen.

On this particular morning, my heart was filled with angst over the subbing job that was looming in the ever near future. With a clarity that I really can’t explain in words, I realized that I was facing the same choice that I made 6 years ago when I went back to work after my son Bennett was born. I always regretted that I chose fear over finances over my son. Yet, here I was again making the same choice. Only there were a few differences. Our financial situation is much, much worse than it was 6 years ago. Jude is older than Bennett. This position is temporary.

Nevertheless, I realized there was no way that I could take this job. Mainly because it was fear that was driving my choice. How could one be passionate about subbing in a high school for 8 weeks? Well, maybe if I had no experience teaching I might be itching for my chance to run the show. But that is not my situation at all. I am completely impassionate about teaching in a public school right now.

The only reason I even considered it was for the money. When I first started teaching, I didn’t care at all about the money. Genesis 41 even made me more focused on that fear, and ultimately (I can be a little slow) I realized the reason I was to read it was to illuminate that piece of the picture for me. And then I thought that God made it so easy because there was some reason for me to be there. Well, I’m sure there was because God will use you where ever you are willing to be used. But God doesn’t need me to do anything that needs to be done. It was all ego.

Passion should drive your choices. I have learned this so many different times and so many different ways. Without passion you might as well be dead. And that morning I had already written in my journal “I’m choosing the world over heaven, and I am slowly dying this way.”

What I am passionate about is writing and creating. And those would be shoved to the back burner of my uncle’s stove (who lives in Oregon) if I were to suddenly be away from home for 50 hours while expounding my vast knowledge of natural selection and ecological principals like old forest succession to teenagers who could care less when the sun is shining and they need to get a tan for the prom.

I was finally jerked out of this quagmire of my mind at about the halfway point of my planned run, when we ran into a friend of my husband’s, Steve. Steve is the quintessential outdoorsman. The bumper sticker on the back of his truck reads “Guns are dangerous. The only thing more dangerous is not having them.” And he had his in a green carrying case on his left arm over his camouflage coat. He had his two Springer Spaniels with him. One was on a leash and the other was loose. Sophie went up to the leashed dog and got all bristled up. I went to grab her and she slipped away. About that time, the other dog charged out of the woods and barked and growled at Sophie. Sophie grabbed her face in her jaws. And instinctively, I grabbed Sophie’s snout and pulled her away. I straddled her, and she actually bucked me like a steer. I was thrown a couple of times, before I realized I was going to get killed that way. So I tackled her and pinned her to the ground.

Steve just stood there watching me, and asked “Do you want a leash?” He tossed me a leash and took his dogs down the road. I laid there on top of Sophie for a long while. The ground was wet and our hearts were racing. Breath after breath I tried to regain some control and peace. Finally, I felt it was safe to get up and continue with the run in the opposite direction from Steve, the way I intended to go in the first place.

I asked for some understanding of why the altercation occurred. I realized that I acted very brave in the situation. I was strong. I wasn’t afraid. I was alive. I tackled Wisdom. And She showed me not to fear the narrow path. Don’t overthink. Just be. Trust. Love. Simple messages that are difficult to hear over incessant clattering of an overactive mind.

I felt so good the rest of the run. Even though the mist turned to steady light rain and my clothes were soaked and covered with mud, I felt good. Why did this feel so good? Every cell in my body felt alive again, and I was free.

I continued running tethered to Sophie via the borrowed leash. Thinking about the new found clarity with my job situation, I kept Sophie in check by dangling the end of the leash in front of her. I started to think about the things that I could do if I didn’t take the job in April. I was flooded with relief that I could still choose not to take the job. That freedom felt so good. And finally a thought occurred to me, “what the hell let her off the leash.”

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,
She is easily discerned by those who love Her,
She is found by those who seek Her.
She hastens to make Herself known to those who desire Her.
One who rises early to seek Her will have no difficulty,
She will be found sitting at the gate.
To fix one’s thoughts on Her is perfect understanding,
and one who is vigilant on Her account will soon be free from care,
She goes about seeking those worthy of Her,
She graciously appears to them in their paths,
She meets them in every thought.

~From this Liturgy of Wisdom

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