Archive for the ‘True North’ Category

What is it about a beach sunrise that trumps a regular sunrise?  Yesterday morning I had my feet propped up on a deck rail, a warm coffee in my hand, two sweet dogs laying by my side, and watching the ocean on the horizon.

Such sweet relief!   Our souls often feel weathered due to the storms we’re forced to endure. We learn:

Change is the only constant we navigate by

Waves continuously change and crash, but the sea and the mysterious laws that govern it are eternally constant. I sat there vaguely pondering  this, but mostly I was trance like in a state of non-thought.

Then my dear friend of twenty years came out with a plate of delicious fresh garden tomatoes grown with the help of her hands and love for gardening.  We sipped our coffee as we watched the sea.  “Look!” she said.  “Dolphins!”    A pair of dolphins were swimming just past the waves’ breaking  point parallel to the shore line.

I rarely stay at such quiet beaches, so I had yet to see dolphins at sunrise.  I’ve hoped for it on many trips, but never got to see them with my own eyes–until yesterday.

It’s real, I thought.  I never saw dolphins swim at sunrise before, not because they didn’t exist or I wasn’t looking hard enough, but because it wasn’t my time to see.  Prayers are answered in God’s time, not ours.

There is nothing like the ocean that seems to settle our faith and our doubts between the temporary and the eternal  like watching the ocean for an extended period of time.  Our soul is soothed as we watch the ocean free from life’s pressures, distractions, noise, and rampant thoughts that compete for our attention.    Ah, to just watch the ocean with a truly open mind, and without awareness of time passing.

See God has planted the seed of eternity in every man’s heart.  It’s hard not to love the sea whose every breaking wave crashes onto shore, only to return softly back to itself.    From a distance it’s so beautiful.  But if you are standing at the waves’ breaking point, all you hear is loudness and feel its fury.  You certainly feel the power if you attempt to stand there.  Fixing your feet here is impossible.  But a few yards ahead or behind the breaking point, all is calm.

Our lives are exactly like that.  The storms come.   The circumstances come in bulk and threaten to pull us under.  We are standing at the breaking point where it’s loud, and we’re unsteady on our feet.  We see the shore and we see the horizon, but in the midst of the breaking point’s fury, we can’t seem to move further out to sea or return to shore.

Yes, viewing the ocean from the distance of being across the street, I had a wider and quieter view then when lying on the sand only a few feet from where the tide comes in.  I look at the sea from this distance and feel nothing but peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes still sugared in bits of yesterday’s sand.  All is well with the world—or at least, in this moment, in mine.

Yet I know this same sea has blanketed fury on coastal cities in time past.  It’s destroyed property and taken lives.  Untold thousands have drawn their last breath of air before succumbing to the ocean’s depths.    Boats and ships sink.  Storms come.  People drown.   My worst sea nightmare would be of being stranded in a life boat, dying of thirst, yet wondering if I’d be rescued.

Yesterday I watched dolphins swim across the ocean.  Somewhere else in the world, in this very same sea, somebody else was on a sinking boat fighting to stay alive.  At their moment of peril, did dolphins cease to exist?  While I marveled at the magnificence of dolphins, did I not care for the person struggling in the sea just because I didn’t see them or know of it?

Our circumstances, perspectives, beliefs, and geography separate us, yet we are still united in our humanity.  When one suffers, humanity suffers even when others are not aware.  Thankfully, God sees the big picture of our lives with an ultra-wide angle lens—a perspective we can’t conceive.  It is not constrained by width or depth or time.   God is able to see both these moments, and every moment and every one.

I want to have and maintain peace like I did yesterday morning.  Can we have daily peace, even though there is continual chaos in the world, even in our own lives? If so, how God?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8

This is one of the hardest and truest bible verses to me.  We are told that it is our doubts that blow our lives all around, sometimes to bits!  Our circumstances and our emotions toss us in such a way we can’t find True North, we can’t navigate our way home.   We get pulled between other peoples’ words to us and expectations of us and our feelings towards it all.   We don’t find solutions, because we don’t believe we will.

We get tossed by each event that threatens to overtake us, simply because we’re out of control.  We already know that in many circumstances, the control was never ours to possess anyway.    Still we fight the Captain of our soul for command of the wheel.  Sometimes our own mutiny is the real cause of our undoing.

It’s been said that seeing is believing.  But the real truth is believing is seeing. 

Would I have believed in dolphins had I never seen them at sunrise yesterday?  Of course!  I’ve known dozens of people who have already seen them; I’d seen them on TV and pictures.  That’s a no-brainer.  Everyone knows dolphins exist.

But God?  That’s another matter.  It can be hard to either believe God exists or that He actually is good or cares for you or the world that you live in.  How could God care or be good when there are storms such as wars, disease, famine , poverty, injustice,  and cruelty inflicted on living beings that God breathed life into in the first place?  Are those people or creatures less valuable to God then we are?  Of course not!  Then why?

WHY is the question we don’t have the luxury of asking.  When we do, our brain is limited in the answers it provides.  We can’t find rationale for pain or unfairness; our limited explanations don’t satisfy.   That dissatisfaction breeds doubt, and the cycle of being tossed about commences.

WHY is the universal question whose answer is like the sea.  It rises up, and then rolls back out.  We think we almost know sometimes; we think we have our lives figured out.    Then the storms come.

We have to trust in our faith that assures WHO, and not the knowledge that seeks to explain WHY.  Don’t allow waves of doubt to take your truth back to sea.

Man tries to explain his life and events, and the most brilliant, pedigreed people still fail miserably.   Life is a mystery.   The question is can you be at peace and NOT have answers sometimes?

I hope so.  That’s faith—being comfortable in not knowing the outcome or why.   If we can choose to live our lives as mirrors, so that our words and deeds reflect  light and love, rather than a telescope that tries to see and explain time and circumstance—that’s visionIf we can choose to love God and believe he exists, even though life isn’t fair, that’s true freedom.  Doing these things diminishes doubts, until they eventually die.

We don’t get to choose the location, timing, or severity of our storms.  We only can decide on who is in charge of our ship that sails over every breaking wave.  Choose well so that you can navigate safely.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells  the next one there’ll be one more

I don’t know if I’m that strong
I don’t know if I’m that strong
Don’t know if I’m that strong
To be somebody
To need someone……….

……..The waves know
We’re on the rocks
Drowning is no sin

You know
That my heart
Is the same place yours has been

(Partial Lyrics—U2 –Every Breaking Wave)

 

 

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Sunset in Raleigh 6/26/12

 

 Sometimes we get lost because it’s so easy.  We skip from one distraction to the next and in so doing we lose sight of The Big Picture of our life.  We are without compass and have lost our sense of direction.  We rarely have a moment of quiet or peace.  All we really want is to find our way home. 

I can remember when I was a very young child being lost in the woods.  Or at least I felt like I was lost.  I was at the total mercy of my father to return me safely to civilization, my known world.  He did, thankfully.   By middle school I participated in Girl Scouts and enjoyed my first camping trips without parents.

I learned to use a compass by day, but at night we hunkered down in our tents or shelters.  We never once explored the deep dark woods at night.  However, when  I was trying to fall asleep outside under a full moon with crickets chirping all around, and strange movements that could be detected close by, I was more than a little tempted to explore on my own, though my better judgment always kicked in.  We were young girls after all, alone yet together, with den leaders who also were young women–just a slightly more grown up version of ourselves.

It seems I was have always been hungry for adventure, and generally one to travel with relatively little fear “for a woman” some might say.  But I didn’t know then, what I do now.

 Sometime between childhood and adulthood, I learned I had better always be able to find “True North”.    Even “True North” is of limited use, if you are not sure of your arrival destination.

Today we are literally surrounded by a 24/7 onslaught of endless digital media, our old friends the TV and radio, and of course advertising everywhere you turn!  We go out shopping and we sometimes can’t even clarify our own thinking, save for the monitors at the end of every aisle subliminally reprogramming our decision making process over which products to consume.  Go online; it’s way worse!

Our daily travels and errands are constantly bombarded with noise, images, music, sound effects, giant paper billboards, and flashing neon and enormous LED displays that have fourteen different crawls scrolling across.   Times Square makes the Zoo TV Tour look like it was little more than a stationary backdrop.   We get to and from our intended destinations, but we miss 99% of the journey.

We are direction-less wanderersWe’re always in motion, but seem clueless as to where we are actually going.    We are in this space and time but for an infitesimally small fraction of eternity.

U2 was ahead of its time twenty years ago, because their tour foreshadowed the continuous wallpaper advertising and multi-media distractions that we’ve since incorporated as daily routine.  For a concert, it was amazing entertainment!  Now, we seem to live in a state of constant distraction with random or no focus, and no sense of where home (where our heart truly resides).  It’s just too much!

How many of us leave the house with one or more TVs just on?  Perhaps you fall asleep to the lull of “comfort noise”– the conversations of people both real and fictional characters, none of whom know or care for you and vice versa.  We interact with faces on screens more than faces on people!  We’ve silenced our inner voice by a bombardment of noise and lights, and wonder why do we feel so alone?

It’s time to leave it behind!  We need to get back to simple.  We need to leave our cubicles and get engaged in the beautiful day that is all around you.  Unplug from the pod and hear the earth as it actually speaks to you.  Feel the variations of the ground beneath your feet.    If you’re in the city, I hope you can carve out a regular time to visit somewhere that has tall trees, an absence of concrete, and vast amounts of silence.

Once thoroughly embedded in a night forest, begin traveling my friend.  (Bring a buddy of course, safety first!)  Look up!  Look around!  Do you know where you are?  Can you find True North?

It’s easy.  You’re looking for the North Star.  Her real name is Polaris, she’s also known as the Pole Star or Lode Star.  She’s not the brightest star in the sky, but she is bright.  Here’s how to find her:

  • Find the big dipper.
  • Look at the two stars (top and bottom) farthest away from the dipper’s ladle.
  • The one on the bottom furthest from the Big Dipper’s handle is called Merak–which for some reason makes me think of meerkats!  Whatever!
  • The one on the top furthest from the handle is called Dubhe –go ahead, call it doobie if you’re so inclined!
  • Anyway—while looking at Dubhe, in your mind draw a line that starts at Merak, continues on to Dubhe,  and in the same direction look until you see the top of the handle of the Little Dipper.
  • The very top star of the Little Dipper is Polaris.  Congratulations, you’ve found the North Star!

It’s easier to find Polaris by starting with the identifying the Big Dipper first since the Little Dipper isn’t always easily recognizable in the night sky.

Hopefully, now you know how to find your way home geographically.  But what about your heart?  Where is home?  Who or where is your North Star?  I hope you find it.   You already know this:  In life, there are plenty of black holes, most of them super massive!    At the “event horizon” of a black hole, is the point of no return; it’s where the pull of gravity will irrevocably take you down.  You can’t escape, even if you are traveling faster than the speed of light.   You’re sucked in, stretched thin, and shredded to pieces.   Sound like anyone you know?

So find True North.  May this be your moment of surrender.  You may think I’m not easy on my knees.   Look up—do you see what I see?   North Star.   And may your heart sing A New Song (40) as you journey home.

‘Cause there’s only one light that can guide you
Guide you home, home

Say it, say it, say it, say it
I can’t wait any longer
I can’t wait any longer for your love

“North Star” – U2

Suggested Listening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuUsn3Ck9bU

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