Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Desert.

We are so sore. Today, my students asked me why I was hobbling around like an 80 year old woman- but in nicer words, of course.

I informed them that yesterday, we accomplished our 18 mile run, finally, after being setback from a week of illness! I am not going to lie, for me, it was my most difficult run yet. There was one point- at around mile 13- when I was near tears and so frustrated by how I was feeling- dehydrated, uncomfortable, achy and stiff. Jeff and I quickly stopped for water, because it was so hot out, and he reminded me that we are capable of running these 18, this is what we have been training for. That although we're tired, with God's strength, we can keep going. So we did.

From miles 13-18, it felt to me as if I was in a desert that I could not get out of. The miles seemed endless and it was hard for me to picture ever being finished with this run. With perseverance, I was able to keep going, but when I was finished and sat down to write this blog, I had nothing to write. What did I learn from this run? I didn't know. I had no new revelation, just the feeling of being relieved that I had been able to finish.

Today, I started preparing my class for a celebration that we will be leading on Thursday. It's funny, this is the fifth time that I'm leading Sukkot, but today I was struck by the meaning of this celebration. Sukkot is a Jewish holiday, the word means "shelters". It refers to the temporary structures that Jews build and eat in on this holiday, it reminds us of the Israelites' travels in the deserts over forty years (it was forty years because of their lack of faith!) and how they were protected and fed by the goodness of God's gifts. These temporary structures are rather flimsy, but they remind us of the fact that our security cannot lie in the strong brick walls of our houses, but that our true security is only found by our faith in God.

I read this to my sixth graders today, "Sukkot is the holiday that remembers the place where most of us are most of the time- somewhere in the desert- in between, midway, sometimes moving, sometimes stuck, always heading- we hope- in the right direction. Sukkot reminds us that the way we get somewhere, what we do and learn along the way, where we detour and where we pause, whom we meet and whom we trabel with, are as essential to the journey as to the arrival...Sukkot reminds us that ultimate security is found not within the walls of our home, but in the presence of God and one another. Indeed, there is a midrash that says that sukkot are not buildings at all, but the glory of God. God hovers over us and is our only lasting shelter in the desert."

Yesterday, I felt like I was in the desert. It was so difficult to be in the middle of Liberty State Park, with five miles to go and no energy to keep going. As I was reading this to my sixth graders, I was overcome with the realization that God was teaching me something yesterday during that run. He was giving me a tangible example of what it means to be in the desert, with nothing to rely on but Him. My eyes filled with tears as I started thinking about these last months of my life. I have been in, and still am in a desert. I am still waiting to hear about my work visa officially and can't go home until I do. Jeff an I are still in the middle of getting this wedding planning off of the ground. I am still adjusting to having my family, particularly my older sister, so far away from here. I am still feeling as if I am in a transitional time, somewhere in between, hoping that I am heading in the right direction with my life.

Just as the 18 miles was difficult and frustrating, this time can also be. But again, today led me to realize how blessed I am to be in this journey. I am on this journey of training for a marathon, waiting for a work visa, planning a new chapter in life for a reason. And what I do with this time, where I pause, the decisions I make, the people I travel with are as essential to this journey as the arrival. I can see, that ultimately, my security must be found in Him alone. God is hovering, He is my lasting shelter, and I am grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Natasha! First, I just love this! God is using you, and your words in my life! Thank you for your perseverance, and your desire to write about it! I am praying for you, and your run, and your desert times! Blessings my friend!! Melissa