Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stealing Tangerines

I don't like treadmills, I am much to A.D.D. for them. I had one for a while and there were times that I would begin my workout and an hour and a half later find myself in the garage, knee deep in old High School yearbooks, with no memory of how I had arrived there. I have also tried the "walking the track", but it lacked the fulfillment of reaching the destination. I mean, I passed the finish line 3 times before I actually got to call it the finish line. But, walking is a way for me to spend time with God and come back rejuvenated. Headphones and a mix of worship and pop music and I'm good for an hour or more of finding my way through the streets and the trails of the foothills.
So, I leave my home and head out into the treacherous unknown fully aware that I don't get to be done until I return home.
On my way up the first hill near my home I have spotted a small, but wealthy, tangerine tree. The fruit have the same appearance as the "cuties" that I've purchased at the grocer. Now, I know that the 8th Commandment given by Moses is "Thou shalt not steal". I got it. But, I have never claimed to be a saint. And when it comes to challenging the authority of God or making wise food choices I would certainly not be one to point a finger at Eve. Besides, there are a couple of branches that hang over the fence and if I stand on the rock and lean toward the gate, I can reach the branch and pull a few away. Just a few. They are sweeter than the ones that I buy from the grocer, perhaps it's because they have no pesticides, perhaps it's because I am out in the sun and moving and refreshment is needed, perhaps it is because they give me a feeling of power. Like a drug dealer in an impoverished city, I've gotten away with a crime of great proportions.
Around the corner, through the park and up another hill leads me to a place to walk that is an escape from the concrete suburb that is my reality. A path leads down a trail that moves behind the homes. Backyards are visible on either side and there are slopes that lead down to a stream in the middle making for a simple, natural elegance.
Today as I made my way down the path, listening to songs that influence me to move faster, I saw something running. At first I thought it was a dog, and then I could see that he was skinny and steadfast. I could see that he was intent in his movement. He was a coyote, traveling somewhere in a hurry. He was on the other side of the stream, and I felt no danger--he seemed completely unconcerned with me. He kept coming and then he passed and he never looked at the strange woman in her silly workout clothes, eating a stolen tangerine.
I stopped and turned to watch him run. And then my eye was drawn to the sun reflecting on the stream and I couldn't help but reach into my pocket and turn off the music. This moment was so beautiful that it deserved to be viewed in its natural state. In the silence--I could hear the stream, I could hear the birds talking to one another and I could hear the sounds that I still can't identify. Looking at the reflection of the sun beating down on the water like a diamond ring too big and too bright for the small hand of the stream, I felt small and, yet, loved as I remembered that God takes care of all of His creatures. I thought of the verse I had been trying to memorize earlier...
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind"
And in that stillness, I could feel the transformation that I eagerly seek. I could feel the peace that often evades me.
And that is when I knew that it was okay for me to steal the tangerines. I didn't steal something that someone else was going to enjoy. Most likely they would have become overripe and fell to the ground, only to be removed later as trash. Those two little tangerines never belonged to anyone until I ate them. That is when they found their owner.
There are things happening all around us and we will either snatch them up to treasure or they will go to waste. Nothing stays as it is. Everything, aside from the Word of God, is constantly changing. The only constant we have is Him, everything else is up for grabs.
From the time my children were born, they didn't realize it, but they were taking steps to live a life separate from me. Like coyotes on a trail, they are now ready to burst from the doors of my home and take on the world. And, I am so blessed to be in a place where I have so many people who recognize and remind me that this is a good change, a necessary trail. For them, it is a crucial path that they must run on, and stumble on, and get up and run on again. But, it is also a quintessential journey for me. I have to walk the path without them. For one, I could never keep up with the speed at which these coyotes will travel--I'm older now, and I stop to look at the sun in the stream. But also, I need to walk and trust that God is enough. He wants me to come to him believing that He alone is enough. Even if all the coyotes sprint so far down the trail that I can no longer see them--He is enough. Even if other than raising and releasing these coyotes, I never do another amazing thing--He is enough. And even if, God forbid, I end up on this trail alone--He is enough.
So, for the time being, I will continue to gather these tangerine moments--I will do my best to not let any fall to the ground and waste away unnoticed. And I will do it all knowing full well that soon the branch will be out of my reach and there will not be a rock that will boost me high enough to reach the fruit.