Search me, oh God. / by Sarah Schwartz

It's too early to be awake on vacation, but I am decidedly up, watching the morning light turn my white curtains into shades of gold. I swing my legs out of bed, making my black iron bed frame creak the way it has for my whole life, and the hundred years it existed before me.

Downstairs I sip a cup of coffee and watch through the window as the the sun slowly creeps across the clover fields. It won't be hot for another few hours, so I decide to jump in the pickup and drive to Glacial Rock, a small park on the side of a hill that boasts a large, flat rock supposedly carried up there during an ice age, that overlooks the countryside.

The drive from my house to Glacial Rock is one of my favorites; twenty minutes of winding back roads speckled with worn farm houses in need of paint jobs, barns overgrown with ivy, and hay bales stacked to the sky. It is early, and the way the light hits this little valley makes everything dreamy.

I turn right at Farmer John's Produce & Nursery, and follow the road until there is enough shoulder for me to pull over and park. The path up to the rock sits to the left of a white farmhouse with gray trim, and a faded Century Farm sign swaying in the breeze out front, just like the one that sits in my yard.

I head up the path and say good morning to the geese that squawk at me through the wire fence. I always forget that the final stretch of the path makes me lose my breath, so I pause, both hands on my hips, and take several deep breaths in the morning air.

Once up the hill, I climb the rock, whose top is flat and spacious, perfect for sitting. It's harvest time, and this spot is the perfect place for watching all the combines weave back and forth in the fields below.

When I fear my thoughts will drown me, I pray the Psalms. And while prayers can be offered anywhere, this morning I need to offer them from this rock overlooking the Willamette Valley.

Search me, oh God, and know my heart.

Know my heart, oh God, because most days I cannot make sense of it.

Test me, and know my anxious thoughts.

For they are many. And some days I fear they are stronger than I.

Point out anything in me that offends you.

Lord, may nothing I have or hold be out of step with your goodness.

And lead me along the path of everlasting life.

May I enter into your abundant life, as your abundant life enters into me.

Amen.