Tuesday, October 30, 2012

anchored deep

 (Don Emert/AFP/Getty Images)
It's been quite a few years ago that I read a chapter in a book by Max Lucado (can't remember which one... Six Hours one Friday, maybe?) that has stuck with me. In that chapter he shares the advice given to boat owners on how to secure their vessels for a storm as an analogy to weathering personal storms (spiritual or otherwise). The counsel? Anchor the boat well and deep. That doesn't mean bury the anchor deeply in sand, but to anchor in water so deep that the storm raging above won't disturb the hold the anchor has on the ocean floor. Assuming the anchor line is sturdy, whatever tossing and thrashing the vessel takes on the surface in the storm, the anchor will hold and the vessel will remain intact, ready to sail another day.

I was reminded of that wisdom when I saw the above photo taken during Hurricane Sandy. Alas, this boat was not anchored deep, and it is likely to be beyond repair by the time the ravages of Sandy have left it in tatters among the rocks, with its remnant-debris swept who-knows-where.

It is a timely reminder. I am finding these to be tough, stormy days as I work to sort out what direction my life might take. Earlier chapters of my life where vocational challenges have been front, center and demanding caution me against taking known and safe routes toward securing a paycheck. I have reached a point of feeling comfortable with relying on that hard-won lesson. I am also reminded of the journey of Parker Palmer, another seeker who learned from a vocational turning point when a mentor pointed out to him that even though way may not open, way closing was also helpful.

The aforementioned comfort can sometimes lure me toward the complacency of inaction, but rude awakenings jolt me toward taking the steps necessary to move forward, onward (quoting Tom Ryan again). Going through the mail that accumulated while we were away at Melrose last week was a long-overdue statement from my 401(k). When I moved from Sewanee the paperwork somehow didn't keep up with me, and that has finally been rectified. This morning I stared in disbelief at the balance in the account, now one tenth of its value several years ago. This retirement "nest egg" was to have softened the blow of a life of limited financial gains when the "R" era came calling. I am crushed to discover the value so diminished, so insufficient. The burden to earn during the remaining ten (ish) years of my work life now weighs heavier than ever and I feel overwhelmed.

Breathe, I remind myself. Remember the source of my strength, deep below the surface of this pressing and present storm. I am weary of being tossed during too many years of upheaval and transition, and long for calm and wind filling my sail rather than battering the vessel of my being. I know God is good. I know I will be okay because I am anchored deep. I know, too, that I am tired. I strain for the words of Julian, that all will be well.

Prayers, as ever, are appreciated and cherished.

Friday, October 12, 2012

friday five: gettin' my random on!

Coming a little late to the game today, but it's Friday, and that means a Friday Five from RevGals! Here's today's edition lead-in:

I don't know about you, but this fall has been incredibly FULL, and time is flying faster than I can keep track of it!

So, first things first. 

Take a moment, and take 5 deep slow breaths...

Well, I feel more centered now.

So, let's get on with a Random Friday Five.

1. Tell us a moment of blessing that you have experienced in the past week.

Hands down, my blessing this week was was a Dunkin' Donuts meeting with a mom-of-three nursing student at a local university.  She has an autistic son who I learned about last year when the family was raising money to get a service dog for Barrett. Zach the dog joined the family last December, but then died unexpectedly in April from a muscular disease no one saw coming. My heart broke when I learned about this recently, and since service dogs and people who benefit from their presence is something close to my heart I wanted to do something to help. A mutual friend set up the meeting with Tammy (the mom), and we brainstormed ideas for raising money for a new dog. Tammy and her husband also want to pay forward the blessing they have already experienced through Zach, and collect money to contribute to another family who would benefit from a service dog for an autistic child. We talked about the potential for setting up a charity to do this on an ongoing basis, and different ways that their family's experience could return the blessing ten-fold (and more) to others.  To allow Tammy and her family to focus on the family's more immediate needs I offered to put together the fundraiser and do some legwork on setting up the charity.  I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help a family in a way that warms my heart and allows me to put my time toward making a difference in someone's life. And, hopefully, multiple someones.

2. Share the first thing/story that comes to mind when you read "When I was a child..."
 (the real thing)
Besides the verse from Corinthians (didn't we all think of that?)... I thought of a collection of little things that I cherish: my Dad cutting up our grilled cheese sandwiches like a puzzle and then mixing up the pieces so that we could put the sandwich back together; summer suppers at the picnic table on the brick patio in our back yard; setting up jumps by laying brooms across bushes and pretending we were on horseback as we cantered around the back yard; licking the beaters when mom made birthday cakes; the list goes on...
3, 4, and 5. If you were the host of a t.v. talk show, what three people would you like to interview on your first show, and what would you ask them.
Seriously, I'm pretty good at dissing interviewers who ask really lame questions of their guests ("How did it feel?" -- really?), but I'm drawing blanks on this at the moment.
How about this. I would try to find a child, a teenager, and an older person, and ask them questions about their dreams, their happy place, their special memories, and whatever else would make them feel like they were the most important, most treasured, most valued person in the world.


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