Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In my canoe

One of the images that has been really helpful to me over the years is that of being in a canoe.  
Many years ago Chuck and I were canoeing in Michigan together.  He asked me if I was going to bring extra clothing and I said NO - why would I?  In case the canoe tips over, he says.
That should have been a clue for me.  But I was so sure we would not tip over that I scornfully said NO.

Then we stopped at an island.  And I got back in the canoe in the front and he did what I call a "Hiawatha thing" where he pushed out the canoe into the river and then jumped in the back. (Like he was in his twenties and not in his 60's!) And, of course, we immediately tipped over and were both completely wet.  And I was mad.  Really mad.  Hopping mad.

Later I reflected on this experience with Sister Breda, my spiritual director.  And realized that in the past there had been times when I had been in a canoe and tipped over and laughed - and now, this time I was just MAD.  As we talked, she reflected that life is really like a canoe that is sometimes stable and sometimes not.  It just is. And so, that has become an image for me to remember.  Life is not a cruise ship where all our needs are met - but much more, much more like living in a canoe.

I found myself thinking about that this morning as I realized that I am in a place today of greater stabilization than a week ago.  The canoe has righted itself and I am paddling in dry clothes and starting to look around and appreciate the beauty of the day.

For one thing, my life goes on in its varied activities.  In the past week I have been invited to preach at several churches, to work on a retreat and to serve on a committee for Columbus City Schools. I have made some concrete plans for a trip to Arizona and a family vacation in July. Brian and I meet with his counselor today and he has already started making appointments to look into disability income and to explore the next place where he will live.

Always my faith is really the anchor.  This week I have spent time with some texts of the season which have given me hope in the midst of confusion.  It is in times like this that I cherish the WORD of God which says - "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."  I have learned to trust that word even when I can't see the light.  And trust that eventually there will be  clarity and  inner peace.

Jesus says: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

What I believe is that to "take the yoke" means that when we are in the canoe - we understand that we are in the front paddling or resting  and trusting the one who is directing us in the back of the canoe. It is easy to forget that I don't have sit in the back guiding the canoe - there is another  wiser one who I can trust.  To "take the yoke" is to know that even when the canoe does tip over due to events beyond my control, I can trust that the worst thing that will happen is  a loss of dignity, wet clothes and I may have to scramble a little bit.   And  that eventually I will be able to find something to laugh about in it.

And so, today is a day of gratitude and wonder as I consider these words of Richard Rohr:

"God has written the patterns in things as they are, and yet we never see the full pattern without divine assistance. God seems to be both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in all things."

No comments: