While I certainly did not understand all of the import that those words carried for him, as I looked over at the papers he had tossed along the waters edge which had now been scattered by both birds and breeze, I couldn't help but wonder about all that must have been churning in his mind. What were the worries or fears that pursued him, and which had shaped his experience that morning, and which continued to haunt him as his steps led him back into the sleepy little beach-side town? While I had been enjoying the sense of peace and renewal that seemed to have caught up with me that morning at the beach, it seemed apparent that it was a very different sense of things that shaped his morning.
Just a few days before in church, we had spent some time reflecting on the last verse of the 23rd Psalm, "Surely goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life," and what it means to be pursued in this way. But for this man on this morning, whatever it was that was on his mind as he looked over his shoulder that morning, somehow I don't think he had the sense that what pursued him was either of those. And as I continued to look at the wadded piece of paper in my hand, pondering what I had seen of the experience of the person who had written upon it, although we had both been in the same geographical location that morning, in many ways we were in very different places. While I had been enjoying what it meant for what was pursing me to catch up, it seems that he was preoccupied with trying to keep ahead of whatever it was that he sensed was pursuing him. When fear and anxiety is what gives the spring to your step, the last thing in the world you want is to be caught. But when you realize that it is goodness and mercy that is on our heels, getting caught just might be the best thing that could happen to us.