Chris and I began our summer with a move across the country, relocating our family from Eastern North Carolina to Colorado. Chris and his dad drove the U-Haul, packed with all our belongings and our two dogs. Asha and I traveled by air, with the help of Chris’s mom, sister, and cousin. After enduring disruptive flight delays and a long journey by vehicle, we all finally arrived in Fort Collins.
Everyone stayed the first few weeks to help us get settled; then, one by one we shuttled everyone to the Denver airport and gave teary-eyed goodbyes. Chris’s mom was the last to leave. After her departure, I did not know what to do with myself or how to navigate the space of a new city, far away from the familiarity of the hometown that grew me. Our house was now quiet, with just the three of us. After such a significant move, vast changes, and a house full of people, the silence and tranquility felt like a stranger. Instead of sitting down to journal and pray, I felt that my body needed to move.
So, I laced up my running shoes and began my trek up and down rocky ridges, pacing one foot in front of the other, letting the disarray of the transition fall off my shoulders, allowing my mind to navigate back towards equilibrium. As I ran, I prayed, hoping to hear the kind voice of God that seems to settle the anxieties the come with stark newness. Following the trail, I focused on the uphill climb, letting my feet nimble the technicality of the course and releasing my breath to set the pace. I navigated through single tracks, downhill into the valley, feeling the tall grass brush against my legs and keeping my eyes open for any native creatures that could appear. I heard the rushing of wind dance in between the rocks, arising amongst the ridge. Ever so often I would pause to visit with the Canadian thistles and sunflowers or to smell the wild sage that lined the path.
Here in the outdoors I’m learning how to let my body slowly drift back towards stillness—not forcing order, but giving into the need to hasten the speed. Cultivating peace is allowing myself to undo the rigor these past six years has brought heart, soul, and body. I’m choosing to offer myself compassion when standing at the top of my yoga mat in tadasana or when opening my journal feels daunting. I’m savoring a strenuous uphill climb rather than a slow, steady asana. I’m learning that giving into my body’s desires is the yogic practice of ahimsa,doing the least harm.
One of the words God gave me for this season of sabbatical was, “Let your heart grow wild.”
“Enter into the wilderness.” I felt that message would take various forms throughout my time off, but one note rang clear: entering into the wilderness of my soul would be a journey of surrender.
Lately, I’ve been releasing my presumptions, ideas, and wonderings as I break out in tears, worshipping in a field of wildflowers or yelling at the top of lungs on the edge of the mountaintop. I’m finding that God is far more kind, playful, and daringly free than I’ve ever imagined, and in knowing his attributes, I believe he invites me to mirror this very spirit of wildness.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder of Restore One and serves as an advisory board member. Restore One will soon open The Anchor House, the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.
Thank you for this. Honestly, I felt like I was on vacation with you. Sabbaticals are Surrenders. I love the way you incorporated your yoga poses into your transitions. Restore One. If you see a rock as you traverse more, pick it up and rub it, that’s how they get polished, -Rumi
Wild and Free. God amazes me. Denver is nice. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Leaving comfort challenges us, but like the rock, it also chiseles. May your rest be a reward you didn’t expect. Refreshing Read!
I love what you said about learning to drift back toward stillness. I’ve been dealing with chronic illness and relearning what my body needs and what it can do. Patience and offering myself compassion is so important, and something I need to remember more often. Thank you.