Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139: 7-10 (NIV))
Where can I flee from God’s presence?
The Psalm tells me there is nowhere I can go. If I lie down in the depths (Sheol/Hell), God is there. If I take myself far away, God is there, too. And yet there are places I do try to flee to when things get hard: to my phone, my computer, social media, books, TV. I flee to my plans, to my regrets, to my attachments. Sometimes I flee to food or drink. I flee to worry. I flee to complaining. God may in fact be in all those places, but my attention toward God has fled. I am putting my attention somewhere else, while God patiently waits for me to notice that the Presence is always with me.
Why do I flee? Sometimes I flee for the same reason Adam and Eve did: I flee because I know my own nakedness, my own shortcomings, and while God may be able to deal with them, I feel like I can’t. Sometimes I flee to try to fill a void within – boredom, loneliness, despair – the void, that in better moments, I know is the “God shaped hole” within me. And sometimes, sometimes I flee because I am overcome at the sensation of God’s Presence, at my connection to All-That-Is. I cannot hold it. It is too much for me to bear.
Wisdom responds: Do not try to hold it. It is not yours to bear. You are part of it – it is not a part of you that you must hold onto. It is the water in which you swim. Sometimes you swim into a particularly fast current and you notice the water. But most of the time you are just swimming in it, not particularly aware of the way it is holding you, sustaining you, buoying you up. When you hit those fast currents that do wake you up, take in the knowledge of that water, that Presence that surrounds you, with a grateful heart. But do not try to hold or contain that feeling or you will corrupt it. Let it flow through you, nourishing you and spilling over onto others. Let my love flow.
May it be so.