My family loved to backpack in the high Sierras. One year, after a refreshing afternoon rain, my youngest child, about seven at the time, looked down at his feet and picked up something shiny. It was a perfectly formed arrowhead of black obsidian. Evidently the rain had washed it out from an ancient hiding place. What a treasure the rain revealed!
In Hawai`i, we have the saying “no rain, no rainbows.” Too often we concentrate on the rain and neglect an openness to the treasures afterward.
What riches or inner resources have you discovered after the rains in your life?
Yesterday, members of our local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla did a “dock walk” on the three docks on the Kona side (leeward) of our island. We were handing out information to boaters about what the auxiliary does, who we are, and extending invitations to join us.
Wow! Did that ever bring back memories – and made me homesick!
In the late 1970s, when Flower Power and Free Love were languishing, I flirted with trading the equity in my house for equity in a new 37′ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. Within five months, I became a “live-aboard” with fifteen-year-old son, my youngest child.
We christened our new home Lothlorién, for the sanctuary in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to which the Elf King and Elf Queen transported Frodo and his friends at a critical point in their adventure.
In Tolkien’s story, it was within the Lothlorién that all their healing and protection took place, while all the dangers and threats were forced to remain outside its borders.
Our Lothlorién was that haven for us, our personal sanctuary of peace, safety, and healing. We needed the storms of life to remain outside. We often invited our friends to savor that sanctuary with us for a day sail, a weekend cruise, or sometimes longer.
Tolkien’s famous quote was our motto – “…not all those who wander are lost.”
Characters who don’t know much about boats always ask, “How many does she sleep?” That’s the wrong question! We sailors usually respond by saying that a sailboat will “drink six, feed four and sleep two.”
There may be room enough to sleep an army by spreading people out over decks and into hammocks, but you abandon all carnal comforts in doing so. Naturally, this can depend on just how close you are with the friends you bring along, too.
My boat basically was designed to sleep six, but six people really wouldn’t do that if they wanted to remain friends after the cruise was over.
One summer, I hadn’t gotten paid for about three months. The insurance company that reimbursed us for most of our clients was undergoing a major change in their computer system. None of us in the clinic where I worked were getting paid on a regular basis. My boys and I were hanging on by a thread.
So what does a girl do when the going gets tough? She spends a week moored at the Isthmus of Catalina Island with a good book, and leaves her troubles behind.
We were really living a good life, in spite of having no money. I had a bag of masa, a hunk of cheddar cheese, a few eggs, and stuff like spices. The boys were diving for abalone and fishing. What else do you really need for food?
We made lots of homemade tortillas with melted cheddar and scrambled eggs, along with plenty of fresh fish and abalone. That’s when abalone was still plentiful in California.
Someone taught us how to eat raw abalone. Instead of pounding it like you need to if you cook it, you cut the raw meat into pieces like shoestring potatoes. Dip it into a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and anything else your taste buds desired, and munch! It’s a wonderful treat!!
Once, on Catalina Island, when folks from our local sail fleet had a cookout, my sons and I showed up with fresh sheepshead, abalone, and hot tortillas.
Everyone else was roasting wieners and opening cans of beans. Even though we didn’t have money for hamburgers or wieners, we ate well – and we were the envy of everyone else.
When I feel bogged down with Life, I sometimes think about what fun it would be to live on a boat again.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was not only a Jesuit priest but he was well known as a palaeontologist. Among other accomplishments, he was involved in uncovering the skull of the Peking man. As someone with a mind of both the spiritual and the scientific worlds, he has inspired me in several ways.
A birthday can be a good time for reflection, so it is on this occasion I think about one of Teilhard de Chardin’s primary concepts. The way I understand it, we constantly are evolving or spiraling to a higher and higher state, which he called the Omega Point. He described it as a “transcendent centre of unification,” a convergence, rather than a divergence.
As I apply that concept to myself, I see that I have evolved over the past decades, although perhaps starting that process later than I might have wished. As he put it, in my life there was “a clear pattern of a rise of consciousness…a continual heightening, a rising tide of consciousness.”
Like his description of Time and the Universe, “in any period of ten million years Life practically grows a new skin,” I, too, have grown a new skin throughout my own quest. More than ever before I am aware of how my action or inaction affects my traveling companions, aware of the world around me and of its cyclic nature. It is my personal evolution – “a condition of all experience,” he would say.
There is another quote attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, although I’m not sure which of his books it is in. I use it as my own mantra.
“Our duty as men and women is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist.”
In his Hymn of the Universe, he writes “Happy the man [sic] who fails to stifle his vision.”
For the next several decades, I want to continue an upward evolution without stifling my vision!
One of my readers hoped that the reason I hadn’t been blogging recently was because I was off drawing with my new-found pastel chalks. I wish I could say that was my excuse for being absent this last month, but the truth is that I have been doing my best to lift the spring semester off the ground.
One of my favorite courses to teach is “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do they learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in doing counseling, but to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within.
This past week I gave my students an assignment to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.
Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to find them 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’ve seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of one metaphor in particular that continually comes into my life, 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 being stalled. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of our goal.
The same thing is true of my life. When I am not able to sail directly toward my goal without getting stalled, I don’t need to let that stop me. I can veer off course a little as long as I keep in mind where I ultimately want to go.
This has been true 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!
A hui hou!
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