(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.