Michal let David down through the window; he fled away and escaped. Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed; she put a net of goats’ hair on its head, and covered it with the clothes. When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” – 1 Samuel 19:12-14 (NRSV)
Ferris Bueller made it look simple and fun: a mannequin under the bedcovers, an elaborate track of string between the mannequin and the bedroom door, a snoring soundtrack. All for a day off school.
Michal’s ingenuity was nearly identical, if a few thousand years prior to Bueller. An idol under the bedcovers. A wig of goats’ hair. A fake case of illness. And Ed Rooney – or rather, King Saul – stalking angrily around the town, trying to capture a young man who had the audacity to escape.
Escape to live another day.
Escape to live in a new way.
I forget sometimes that escape is an option. I dig in my heels. I put my head in the sand. I build up my defenses. All my energy is poured into staking and protecting a claim, when I could be directing that energy (at least some of it) toward an escape plan. Toward a situation that isn’t life or death – it’s just life. Toward a restorative next step. An open window, a back door, a path less taken.
As David knew, a lifetime of dodging spears is an exhausting life.
And an exhausting life needs accomplices to support a life-giving escape. Someone who knows how to sew a good wig out of goat hair. Someone else who knows how to cover tracks. Someone who knows how to love fiercely in hiding and unflinchingly in public. Someone who knows that it’s not a lie to say you’re sick if in the meantime you’re escaping with your skin and spirit intact.
For the accomplices who make a new day imaginable, for the relationships that make escape plans possible, for the One who knows every way out of no way, I give thanks as I plot to live another day.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.