Friday, 15 January 2016

The Ship of One's Soul at the Bitter Waters of Stolen Years

Other than the tall ships racing phenomenon hitting harbours across the world in the last forty years, and pleasure sail boats, ships rarely sail now.  Rather, they motor or propel with large engines.  Once that engine is oriented and set toward a goal, it takes a lot of energy to change her course.  Thus the ships of our souls take time to re-orient themselves, whether they wait or tack for better wind, or shift their rudders.

I have been tipping on Icarus moments as of late.  Sometimes a dream or goal is so brilliant and incredibly beautiful, that we venture too close too quickly, and take a nose dive.  Sometimes the dream is attached to something or someone that takes on the character of the dream so that the person or thing becomes indistinguishable from it.  The soul is caught, and pursues full throttle ahead without question.  As this line from Somerset Maugham laments, "Passion doesn't count the cost... It convinces you that honour is well sacrificed and that shame is a cheap price to pay. Passion is destructive. It destroyed Antony and Cleopatra, Tristan and Isolde, Parnell and Kitty O'Shea. And if it doesn't destroy it dies. It may be then that one is faced with the desolation of knowing that one has wasted the years of one's life, that one's brought disgrace upon oneself, endured the frightful pang of jealousy, swallowed every bitter mortification, that one's expended all one's tenderness, poured out all the riches of one's soul on a poor drab, a fool, a peg on which one hung one's dreams, who wasn't worth a stick of chewing gum."

While not identical to the image depicted here, the disappointment of getting caught unawares and recognizing I am beyond my limits, conveys a similar feeling.  Caught mid-sea in doldrums, with a failed engine and the wind knocked out of my sails.  Thoughts come that I have 'missed my ship',  or have gotten embroiled on the wrong one, and have been childish and distracted, having forgotten my higher calling.  Yet, when that higher calling gets attached to selfish passions it gets rather cloudy.  Still, deep waters, bitter waters, briny with the salt of wounds opening and healing after more than a quarter of a century - years stolen by the sins of others, and my own. Entrenched, subconscious physiological and emotional fault lines of pain and grief do not release and retrain easily, even after years of careful treatment.  I don't think too clearly, when I feel so much.  It is like suffering the torments of love, bent on loving to one's hurt.  "Look not too deeply into your soul," some say.  It depends for what purpose.  Reality and identity of soul is more important than external existence and outward appearance of success.  It grounds and directs.  Oh ship of my soul, heed!  To live well in this life is not to have all your dreams now - they lie yonder the grave.  Wisdom is needed, not to shut out what is grievous or ugly within or without, but to be open-handed to the goodness of God in transforming it.  Mercy and grace surround me, and I thankfully breathe the fresh air of being alive, when I could have died.

Life could be bitter.  But I pray and cry out for it not to be.  Bitter is made sweet, and my cup runs over, because Someone Else drank the bitter sting of everlasting death for me, both now and forever.  The sweet tree revealed to Moses by prayer for the children of Israel at Mara, foreshadows the cross.  It's power is ever applicable for all time to those who submit their bitterness in exchange for the sweetness of love and forgiveness coming from the realization of a gift far more precious than what we thought we were entitled to in the first place. Treasures in heaven in exchange for bitterness and brokenness.  It is hard to comprehend, believe and live, but it is true.  This is my high calling, an opportunity to partner with the Great Restoration of God with my eyes open.  Ship of my soul rest in His healing as His will moves you, until you hear the call, "All hands on deck!"