“Crash me, wash me up on your shore,
Drifted way too far from my moorings and more.
Overboard the oars went,
Relentless was the roll.
Of the restless sea set me free
from its treacherous shoals.
Don’t let me go.”
~ Mike Roe, The Boat Ashore
The desire to move forward, and not look back, is vital to the energy of persevering in this voyage of hope. Longing can be for what irretrievably was, or for what we hindsightedly wish had been, but indeed also a palpable yearning for what can be. The language of physical movement, of navigating between the known and terra incognita, is entirely applicable to the interior life- the life from within that aspires to manifest in the open air. For me it is a determination toward continuous renewal, as the very antithesis of how past discouragements become insidious snares on the paths of trust. Along the way, I have witnessed the hopeless consequences of how the present can be darkened and dictated by past setbacks. To acknowledge the outward gifts encompassing the life given to me, the inner life must be ever cultivated- even to the extent that when presented with the option to look back, I will choose the vision of the future enlightening this day. Such vision yearns to be applied, in every situation.
Living in a world of opposites, part of the vigilance for renewal is an abhorrence for what fetters the soul. While we remind one another to look up and look ahead, we are attesting to the fact that regrets constitute a drain to the best potential of our energies. Now to really internalize perseverance! And certainly our history is for us to inform, but not to burden. The old consolation in sports of “wait ‘til next year,” exemplifies ameliorating what didn’t work (wishing not to repeat errors) and transforming past defeats into confidence. Red Sox fans will consume New England winters with such discussions, effectively tapping into the stuff that makes for great philosophers and historians. We become skilled at nurturing cynicism, but do we dare to embrace our hopes fulfilled? Will we give ourselves to a knowing hope that we will see realized? It means audaciously looking at reality in the light of mercy that comes from beyond ourselves.
Comprehending what is past and trusting there really is a promising future, represents the balance of contrasts we embody. A wise friend, who has given me invaluable advice, offered the metaphor of returning to the ruins of the burned-down building and exhuming the treasures worth saving. Wishing to be unfettered by discouragement and old baggage is balanced by the desire to hold on to what is hopeful. While I am training myself not to capitulate to self-defeat and old condemning judgments, alongside that is the balm of recollection reminding me of what liberates and encourages. For Saint Paul it was a struggle he described as warring factions within, between delight in his discoveries against the captivities of what weighed him down*. The past is gone. I want to release and to hold on, as I embrace and begin to believe in the embrace that is given to me. It is the paradox of unbinding one side of life, while espousing inestimable promise.
These steps and strides are willful. In the midst of this society’s distracting noise, such paces can be silences. The counter-balance of proving grounds in this overtly competitive world, is to recall that assuring spirit which frees us from fear, from imagining there is some need for us to pretend we are more than our intrinsic selves. If hope is essential to trust, then surely our reminders to one another of the freedom from fear is integral to being unburdened from defeatism. Within that acceptance is the release of an expectation that my pace won’t still comprise fits and starts. Participating can be actively at the center of life, and at other times our actions become listening and observing. For me to actively participate, it has been vital to occasionally retreat to lonely places- even briefly- and listen to the heart’s depths which can so easily be overwhelmed. Yesterday while speaking to a group and alluding to this vital balance, I offered that we need times for reading, so as to provide for times of writing.
*Romans 7:22, 23.