Life is many things, and if you asked me to name one of them, I would say it is like an ocean. In respects towards grandeur, life and the ocean are one in the same. Yet I would draw this comparison mostly because we, like the great navigators before, venture forth from familiar coastlines into often terrifying unknowns. Sometimes we sail as a part of great armadas; other times alone in our humble vessels. The journey is ours to make, and we must be wise in the undertaking. After all an ocean can not only be a difficult place, but a mercilessly unforgiving one.
Yet, from the mariners, ancient and new, we can have faith that the ocean provides for her travelers, just as life instructs her journeyers. Resources abound in places none could imagine, as direction can be found in forms none would have conceived.
This is the wisdom of our lives here on Earth. Where is the wind blowing? Which of the many lights in the night sky should I follow? Do I take refuge from the coming storm, or do I hoist the sails and ride her through? Some of the answers are found in the undertaking. Other times they are better off taught. Whichever the method, we must never fail to adhere to our inner compasses that will guide us towards our destined harbors.
If I could relay the times this imagery has availed me of some self-imposed doubt in my own abilities, I would lose you by the millionth page of the undertaking. For when the doubt in myself was there, so too were the winds that were moving me forward. When the hesitation, or some sudden spur of regret, reared its ugly head, the current was already propelling me along the path. These affirmations are beyond the coincidental, they are divinely decreed. They are the doors we are always assured will open; the promised stones to support us with each falling step. From the nets that will catch us, to the loved ones that will be there, these are the winds that push against our sails.
For me this is what life is about, and why I have found myself here, at the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford. I have not stumbled myself upon just another changing tide, or scene if you will. No, this is the Thermohaline Circulation, the great pulse of a force unseen driving all of creation to its very realizable destiny. I am here, in this esteemed place, among veteran captains for a single purpose: to serve, to give, to fight, to toil, and to labor1. There will be times when I shall contribute the wares of my travel and the experiences I have gained. But I expect above all to learn those invaluable lessons we all need in order to master the oceans of our lives.
1 “Generosity” St. Ignatius Prayer
Title: ULYSSES by Alfred Lord Tennyson (l. 44)