Everything burned down. It happened so quickly. I just barely escaped with my life.
That’s how it feels. After nearly a month away, I’ve returned with a brave face and a broken heart to the place where my world fell apart. After few frantic days of sorting, repacking, moving and unpacking my significantly pared down possessions, I collapse with exhaustion on my bed in my temporary new home, gaze at the fire escape outside my window, and marvel at what I have just survived.
I am still in shock. I am emotionally traumatized. I am grieving a terrible loss. But I am somehow still alive.
In this moment of all moments the strangest story comes to mind: the Bible story of Lot’s wife. Lot and his family are narrowly escaping from a city that is burning to the ground. Angels instruct them that they must run and not look back under any circumstances. Lot’s wife cannot help but look back… and she turns into a pillar of salt.
Why this story? Why now? Possibly because I am tempted in every moment to look back. Last night in my yoga class it seemed as though the instructor was reprimanding me personally every time my mind wandered… which was often. How did she know every time? I suppose I’m not the only wanderer. Who knows what things the minds on either side of me were wandering to. I know that my mind, consistently and unrelentingly, was wandering to the fire.
But I must not look back as Lot’s wife did. There will come a time when it may be helpful – perhaps even healthy – to look back on the times before everything was razed to the ground. But the destruction is still too close behind me to look back now. I must look always forward. Escape. Survive. Give thanks that I am still alive.
When all around has fallen, your castle has been burned.
You’ve been crushed to pieces, and no one knows your pain.
Come, come, lay your weary head, be still my friend.
Come, rise with me.
When tomorrow has been stolen and you can’t lift your head.
…all your hopes have fallen, your skin is now your only armour.
Come, come, lay your faithful head, be still my friend.
Come, rise with me.
–Song by Delirious (lyrics condensed)