One of the courses I always loved to teach was “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do students learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in counseling clients, but also how to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within. An assignment I always gave was for them to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.

Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to show them how to find metaphors in unexpected places.

One of my personal favorites is the metaphor of sailing. I’ve used it so many times in the past that it’s almost become a cliché, and yet it is a strong metaphor for me. Those of you who have been reading my posts fairly regularly will remember that I lived on my 37’ sloop for five years.

I moved off my sailboat to the Phoenix area when I was assigned to be a pastor there. About six months into that appointment, one of the men in the church came to me and said, “This is the first Sunday you haven’t mentioned sailing.” He went ahead to say that he wasn’t tired of it, but that it emphasized the fact of how many ways sailing was a rich metaphor for our lives.

We have all seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of the sailing metaphor in particular and that is the way we have to maneuver the boat in order to get to our destination.

You know that a sailboat cannot go directly into the wind without stalling. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of the goal.

The same thing is true of life. When we are not able to sail directly toward our goal without getting stalled, we don’t need to let that stop us. We can veer off course a little as long as we keep in mind where we ultimately want to go.

This has been true for me so many times – with education, career, home, relationships. How easy it would have been to give up, rather than to let the wind carry me in a different direction! I may have tacked back and forth many times in life, but I’ve ended up where I was ultimately headed.

Do you have a specific metaphor for your life?

A hui hou!

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