I walked barefoot in the grass today. It's the beginning of November, most of the leaves have fallen, but a few remain. The sun is brilliant, the breeze gentle, and this east-coast beach-blooded barefoot girl needs to feel the cool of the grass beneath my feet.
I kick off my shoes and walk feeling the cool (but not yet cold) soft ground and the occasional pricker under each step and stride. I chase a shaggy blonde headed, giggling two year old. I catch him and we laugh and fall over giggling. All the while we play, we simultaneously cheer on the cutest long-legged 4th grade booster-thon runner that is my own second born who is running to earn the blessed financial donations promised by her sister (10 cents per lap), her parents, and grandparents as payment for her efforts. I watch her stride. I watch her walk a lap hand-in-hand with two friends. I catch her eye every time she comes around and she lights up with a smile.
My soul lifts. It's needed to.
In the past weeks my symptoms have worsened. Not from some terrible disease, but rather symptoms of with-drawl from a lack of time outdoors away from the noise of all things man-made. The signs have been easy to see and diagnose.
It began with an inexplicable ache that persisted and worsened every time I glimpsed the mountains or any place west from where I live. Then grew more serious into a condition where finding and holding onto a single thought has felt like holding a water weenie or looking for a diamond in a pond of muddy water. Impossible. I deeply sensed a need for a cure when one of the final symptoms appeared: irrational emotion; this need to cry at any and every turn-- with no explanation, and no ability to turn off the faucet of tears.
I have longed for a taste of the outdoors. My soul knows my Savior most deeply in the smell of fall's sweet fragrance, in the it's song of the rustling leaves, in feel of the sun on my skin, and the grass beneath my feet.
I have pined for solitude and found none. The call of the Creation outside my four walls has alluded me in the midst of a life that is full of schedules and toddler naps. It has been drowned out by each mess in every corner of my house that has screamed out, Attend to me now! I am most important.
Somehow today, the cry for outside was louder.
I found myself laid back on a picnic blanket on the grass while the world's cutest (and most incredibly demanding) 2-year old Schedule Director naps upstairs in his bed.
My heart was longing for the mountains, but right where I was joy and settled as I lay on the grass inside my backyard with the 4-foot privacy fence. A gentle constant breeze cooled my skin in the sun.
Today this is my sanctuary. Today this is where God and I chat and grow deeper in love and friendship with one another.
Sanctuary, it seems, is where you find it. It is not the ideal place you get to go to for retreat.
Sanctuary is the proverbial cleft in the rock that God has carved out for us for THAT day because a trip into the mountains is not always on the list of possibilities for that day.
Today, Sanctuary is cool grass under my bare feet.
Today Sanctuary is the observation of the ladybug that God has sent as if through His creation He kisses the back of my hand with each step she journeys across it.
All this, this sanctuary taking place inside the 4-foot privacy fence in my backyard.
Normally, I abhor fences but today I don't mind. Before I wandered outside, I prayed, Father, what do you want me to do with this part of my day?
As I sit, I hear Him say,
What space is He calling you to be away with Him in today? Where in the dailyness of your routine has He placed a Sanctuary near you so that you can catch your breath and just breathe for a moment? I'm asking, because I believe He puts Sanctuary into our every day if we will but look for Him to lead us to it.
You've always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all,
a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest.
Psalm 61:3-4 (MSG)