The Home to Heather Creek series editor reflects on how she found her calm in a hectic situation.
I went away with some friends this weekend, and it was a wonderful time of eating and relaxing and enjoying the company of faithful women. But sometimes, when I find myself surrounded by people, I just need to get out. I love spending time with people; but I also love having some time to enjoy peace and quiet, and a house with six girls isn’t the best place for that. So I did what I usually do when I need to get away—I went for a run.
At first it was tough to get going. It was 17 degrees outside—before wind chill—but it was a stunning, cloudless Sunday morning, and I knew that once I got moving I would warm up and be glad I was out. I turned right out of the driveway without having the slightest clue where I was going. I didn’t know this town at all, and I had no idea where I would end up.
This sense of exploration is actually one of my favorite things about running in a new place. Sometimes I end up completely turned around. (Once, in London, I began to seriously worry I would ever find my way home again.) But for the most part, I love the adventure of trying to find interesting new places.
I ran through a quaint little downtown area, past a pond covered with birds. The road turned and then I came to 4-way stop. I looked left and right, then straight ahead. I could go any way I wanted, and each of my choices looked equally appealing. I jogged in place and considered my options, then turned left. There was no real logic involved in my decision, I just liked the look of the trees on that street.
It was only a few minutes later that I came across a small parking lot, and, curious, I crossed it and walked toward the sand dune at the other end. As I got closer, I felt my heart pounding. It couldn’t be—but then I crested the sand dune and saw that it was indeed a sandy stretch of beach. The waves were pounding against the fine white sand, and the sun was glinting off the deep blue water. There was no one else in sight; not even another set of footprints. I sucked in my breath and headed down toward the ocean’s edge, where the sand is packed harder, and started to run along the shore.
It was still and peaceful and holy. Just being there, I felt renewed. All I could think was that I had found this place by accident. Had I turned a different direction, made a random decision, I never would have found this. And yet, as my feet sunk into the soft sand, I knew that I hadn’t been brought here by chance. An empty beach in January was not what I expected to find, but it turns out it was exactly what I needed, and as I turned around and headed back toward the house, I remembered to thank the one who is always directing my steps.