I used to recite a line from “Forrest Gump” when things would get stressful around here. It’s the line young Jenny (or “Jenn-ay” if you’re Forrest) says as she is hiding in the field, away from her abusive father. She squats down and says, “Dear God, make me a bird so I could fly far. Far far away from here.”
I would say it aloud as my children fought or my father-in-law droned on for hours about new medical procedures. Usually, I said it with sarcasm, but sometimes I would say it secretly in my head. Those were the times I didn’t want anyone to hear me. The times I really wanted to fly away. The times I wanted to escape. The times I felt like life was more than I could handle.
I write in past tense because it’s been a while since I’ve recited this line. Yet, truth is, sometimes I still want to fly away. Things aren’t bad. The things that were weighing heavily on me in the last few months have started to ease their tense grip on my heart and mind. But I can’t help myself from longing for more sometimes. For peace. And rest. And beauty. For places I love.
One of those places is Telluride, Colorado. I have a shirt with the John Muir quote: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” I feel that way about Telluride – like it’s always calling for me. Calling for me to come ski its mountains, taking in its vistas, journaling about its vibrant colors and lovely people. If I were a bird, I would fly to those mountains. When I’m in the mountains, my heart is the most alive. I feel passion for living and breathing and taking in extraordinary beauty.
Today as I was about to say Jenny’s famous line, it was like someone shocked me back into reality. I was driving my four boys around town on errands they wanted to take, and I was reminded that in the midst of traffic jams in that stinky Suburban with the loud music blaring, fast food bags overturned and boys talking about how they can’t wait to shoot each other on their new video games, I had enough beauty to light up an entire city. The beauty that shines from the gifts that are my boys is far greater than any mountain, no matter how loudly it is calling me.
As Christmas is only a few days away, I had the amazing privilege of spending the day with my precious children when there are others who are not able to spend it with their loved ones due to divorce, death, estrangement, sickness, etc. So I said a quick prayer for forgiveness at my greedy heart as I long for more, when I have all I need in this life of mine. People who love me, a family that I count as a blessing beyond measure and all the comforts I would ever need.
So I ask myself: if I sprouted wings tonight, would I fly far, far from here?
You bet I would. But first, I would make sure my wings were strong enough to carry the extra bodies of my boys off to the mountains where we would thank God that we have each other – and for the “icing” on the cake: being in these mountains that call to me every day.