On Being Hemmed In

Last week, I found myself moving slowly on 1-26, a familiar experience for me. Usually I can turn up the kids playlist or podcast and remind myself that this is a moment and invitation to slow down and look around.

Last week, I wasn’t in the mood to slow down or look around. I just wanted to get back home.

What made it worse was I couldn’t see the open road. All I could see where the sides and backs of 18-wheelers. There was one in front of me in my lane, another one right beside me, and one in front of in the other lane. I could see the reflection of blue police lines, but that’s all I could see.

I was hemmed in.

I was stuck.

And I didn’t know how long I would be stuck.

I do an ok job of finding perspective if I can see how long I am going to be stuck, but if I can’t see what’s ahead at all, all of my worries and impatience tendencies rise to the surface.

The psalmist describes being hemmed in as a source of protection and comfort in Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

    you discern my thoughts from far away.

You search out my path and my lying down,

    and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

    O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem me in, behind and before,

    and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Being hemmed is being exposed and vulnerable. When we can’t see ahead and aren’t in control of how long we will be stuck, our true selves are revealed.

Maybe instead of running from those situations and trying to control the flow of traffic, we would do better to hem ourselves into the arms of the Divine and rest in being known and being loved.