“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”
Birds called in the distance as I panted my way up the hill, hiking one foot in front of the other to my favorite spot in Antigua, El Cerro de La Cruz. It’s my favorite because there are trees and the hill curves upward and it reminds me of the foothills of Northern California where I grew up, where I first learned to pray in the hushed quiet of a forest blanketed with pine needles and smelling of Christmas. A soft haze hung over the city and my lungs burned and my legs burned and my rear end will not be happy with me tomorrow (although hopefully the stair steps will yield some perky results in the long run.) And I can’t explain why, but it even looked like a better day.
A day when God would speak. A day when light would pour in to the lonely places and the sad places and the hum drum and homesick places.
A good friend of mine was just telling me that she misses doing things with people–active things like walking or dancing or making food. It’s one of the deepest ways she connects and she feels she doesn’t get enough of it.
And it got me to thinking about how I connect. Not just with people, but with God. And it made me miss the salt and the spray and the startling beauty of the cliffs where I used to run in San Diego. Where I would pound and pant and start to pray again after a very long time of silence.
Somehow God always seemed to show up there, at the edge of the cliff, on the edge of the world, in my quiet morning workouts before the work day. He was in the lapping waves and vertical cliffs and smell of sulfur. He was in my lungs as I ran. He met me when I stopped.
I know I connect with God in nature, in movement, but I haven’t really done it here. Not in this town where the streets are ankle-twisting cobblestone and people say it’s not safe to run alone. Where the cat calls abound and I know women who’ve had their butts slapped and their dignity degraded on an afternoon jog.
But I’m sick of staying inside. I’m sick of treadmills and spraying down work out machines.
But more than that, I miss hearing God speak.
So today I ran up to the cross. Lungs burning and legs burning and heart wide awake.
And you know what? God spoke. I’ve been wrestling with the temptation to focus on the AFTER, to stew in my discontent. Lately I’ve let myself get bogged down in missing my friends and my life in San Diego. In missing my church and holding hands across the aisle to pray at the end of the service. In missing my routine and my car and the relationships that give my life such fullness, grace, and color.
I wrote it on Friday and it’s a daily surrender: Be here. Be present. Don’t miss this life here.
And as the birds called to one another and the haze began to lift and my labored breathing began to slow, I looked out at the city I have chosen to call home for now, and He whispered,
“Be here–because I am here.“
And today didn’t just look like a better day. It was a better day.