Friday, April 5, 2013

In Pursuit

At what age, I wonder, do we begin to remember events from our childhood as adults?  Age four?  Earlier?  Well, that's quite unfortunate for my children.  Unfortunate that this morning I forever left them with a vision of their crazy mom in a foot chase with a large raccoon across a barren, muddy field.  First of many such memories, I suppose.  But, it would seem that the first memory of your mom in all her crazy glory is the hardest pill to swallow, don't you think?

It started out innocently enough.  Kids buckled in the car, we ventured out ten minutes later than intended, as is typical, en route first to the babysitter and then on to a conference for work.  Pulling out of the driveway and onto the road, my eyes caught a glimpse of something lumbering out of the ditch and into the field that borders our home.

"Guys, look!  Is that the biggest raccoon you've ever seen, or what?"  Was it even a raccoon?   It loped through the field.  I ran through my mental list of critters and couldn't think of any other rodent that would match its description.

"Maybe it's a coyote?"  A offered.

"I think it's a 'possum!"  E's squint matched mine as we watched the critter running towards our yard.

Wait.  Towards our yard?!?  Suddenly, it registered.  Giant raccoon.   Unassuming chickens.  This was not good.

You know that flight or fight response we all have?  Mine is flight.  You name the emergency, I'm running from it.  I scream and cower when so much as startled so often, I'm hardly even embarrassed about it anymore.  I'm not exactly high on the recruitment list for volleyball leagues, which is fine; the adrenaline rush of leaping frantically away from each ball volleyed my way is just way too overwhelming for me.  So tickle me powerful when without warning, I found myself veering the steering wheel sharply, pulling over to the side of the road and leaping from the parked car, in hot pursuit of this granddaddy of all raccoon whom I assumed was after my precious flock.  I raced furiously through the field after it, flinging up clumps of mud behind me with each bound.  I called for reinforcement from Spencer-dog who had no idea what all of the commotion was about, but was certainly excited to wait for me at the edge of the yard, wagging his tail excitedly as I galloped his way.

What a sight this must have seemed to any passerby.  And oh, how I hope there were no passerby. Gratefully, I did not catch the raccoon. (No one is surprised by this, right?)  Spencer-dog gladly took on his role of watch dog as I ran back to my car to find my children squealing delightfully: Yee-haw-ing and Go Momma-ing at this unexpected rodeo.  I buckled in sheepishly, my adrenaline rush slowing and my analytic brain washing back in control and questioning my sanity.  Worse than being potentially insane, did this escapade push me into new terrain?  Had my life down the unconventional road less traveled suddenly swerved me into hillbilly territory?  

(Have I already linked you to this story?  If so, it's because it's one of my faves.)

If I were totally, totally honest though-and I try so hard to be-deep down I found myself so very grateful that I actually have a fight instinct after all.  Not that I want to use it.  I prefer to be spending my efforts working towards a more spiritually driven life than chasing critters about the Midwest.  I mean, really, how many spiritually sensitive souls do you find so trigger happy that they run out, yippee-ki-yaying after a poor raccoon out for a morning stroll.   John Edmiston writes about mastering our emotions by combining faith, courage, decisiveness, and balance...The alternative to the fight or flight response is to achieve mastery of the situation. Jesus always demonstrated mastery of any and every situation He was presented with. He neither fought the soldiers who arrested him or fled them but rather throughout His entire trial demonstrated an amazing degree of personal mastery. At no point in His life did Jesus give in to the adrenalin-filled panic of a fight or flight response. He could have gathered an army but He did not. Perhaps He could have fled hostile Israel and gone to Greece and been welcomed as a philosopher, but He did not. There were times when He avoided Jerusalem because of the hostility and because His time was not yet come yet at no point did He react from instinct alone.

Still a long way to go.  Still in pursuit.  I'm trying though.  Aren't we all?