Lenten Guest Post – Day 16 – Unplugged

And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” — Mark 6:31

I log off my phone and turn off my computer.
I take off my headset.
I pull free from my cubicle.
I go through the security door.
I ride the elevator down two floors.
I pass the front desk in the lobby.
I walk out of my office building.
I squint at the sun; it is noon.
I don my shades.
I am in my usual race to get through the parking lot
To my car,
Away from the building,
Away from my job
As quickly as possible.

I unlock my car.
It is oppressive inside.
I wait for a second and get in.
My AC does not work.
I start the car and back out.
I maneuver toward the exit.
I pass through the security gate.
I pull into the right lane of the driveway.
I pause.
I have been on autopilot for four hours.
What am I doing?
Where am I going?
Why, home, of course,
Right after I stop by Taco Bell.
Not today.

I turn left out of the right hand lane.
Good thing no one else was using the driveway.
I have an idea,
But it is not very clear.
I flip on the radio.
“I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I have become comfortably numb.”
Now I’m scared.
I close in on Old Canton Rd and realize where I am going.
I turn both the steering wheel and the radio knob left.
I’m not going the best way.
A circuitous route may be best right now.
I put the window down.
My hair gets messed up.
I start sweating.
Surprise, it’s hot in Jackson, MS.

I head up the Natchez Trace.
I kind of know for what I am looking.
I kind of don’t.
I pull off the road at a spot with which I am unfamiliar.
I have lived here for over five years.
How is it that I have not spent time exploring the Trace?
Too much time plugged in.
I pull off my button down and toss it in the passenger seat.
I put my hands on my hips and lean back.
The sun does its work.
I bend over.
My back cracks.
Aaaahhh.
Where to now?

The woods beckon.
Is it the woods?
Is it someone waiting for me in the woods?
Whoever or whatever, I move.
I reach out both arms and feel bark, rough.
Gravel under my feet.
Leaves over my head.
No fluorescents, no tile.
I have only my car keys.
I feel light without all my stuff.
Wind pushes through my sanctuary.
I breathe in down to my nethers.
Exhaling fully, I become lightheaded.
When was the last time I breathed in all the way?

A clearing appears.
The sun is unobstructed.
Grass spreads in a circle close to trees.
I know others have been here before.
A couple stealing a few moments.
An artist with his canvas or camera or sketchpad.
A Confederate soldier advancing or retreating.
A deer doing whatever a deer does.
I am not the first to occupy this space.
How many have come before?
How many will come after?
It is my spot for now.
I will gladly yield it to others.
When it is their turn.

I stride to the center of the patch.
I kneel down slightly off-center.
I lay down on my stomach.
I do not care about grass stains on my clothes.
I put my face in the grass and smell.
I run my fingers through it.
I embrace the ground from whence I was taken.
I am made of dirt.
I am rooted in the earth.
It is my home.
I am here.
I am nowhere else.
The world is spread beneath me.
The sky expands above me.

Wind
Grass
Trees
Sun
Dirt
Me
We are still.
We are present.
My breathing slows.
Savor the moment.
Savor the presence of the Other.
Close your eyes.
Open them again.
Murmur praise.
Then be quiet once more.

I hear a car’s horn.
I feel hot.
My arms are itchy.
Ouch.
A red ant bites me on the cheek.
That’s gonna look nice.
Lyrics from X&Y play in my head.
I need to check my email.
I haven’t had lunch.
I need to check my voicemail.
I don’t like to be quiet.
I am trying.
It is hard to be
Unplugged.

Jason Kranzusch lives in Jackson, MS, attends St. Stephen’s Reformed Episcopal Church, and blogs at axegrinder. This fall he begins his PhD program.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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2 Responses to Lenten Guest Post – Day 16 – Unplugged

  1. kerby goff says:

    nice. i like it. and it is blazing hot in Jackson, MS.

  2. The Scylding says:

    What is it with us modern humans?

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