While I was in Portland a couple weeks ago, on my last night in the city I drove out to The Grotto : a beautiful spiritual sanctuary of nature overtaking a prayer walk through artistic renditions in bronze of biblical scenes from Jesus' walk to the Cross. Apparently it's in the worst part of town, which struck me as the best place for it to be.
Arriving I instantly felt a calm over me. The busy street, just feet away, faded as I entered the forest. I'd been carrying with me, off and on through the last few years, a desire I was feeling particularly burdened by that day, particularly Jesus' lack of fulfilling it when and how I wanted.
Walking up the steps, having a vague idea of the contents of the prayer walk, semi-consciously I thought: "Okay, Jesus. I'm here. Where are you?"
And then, hidden through the trees, buried in plain sight, he took me by surprise.
His arms outstretched seemed to say : I've been here all along, even before you thought to ask. I'm here.
But he felt tucked away, almost as if in wait for me to come up the steps. The statue was not big, grandiose, or on full display. He didn't jump out at me in ornate styling or posture. But appeared, catching me off guard in my hurt, frustration, and expecting to be left high and dry by life, unconsciously expecting it from him, too.
In the moment my heart skipped a beat, and filled with gratitude. My desire is still a longing. And I was reminded that day how much he sees my wanting, but how much more he sees me. It prepared me for what I discovered down the path ... to see him.
That evening as I rounded the corner I stood in awe at one of the final bronze sculptures : Jesus on the cross. To see Jesus. To witness his sacrifice. I felt humbled and reunited at the same time.
How fitting then that the end of the path led me right back to the beginning, to Jesus and his open arms hiding in (now plainer) sight.