Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)

thoughts…at this new year

when things happen:  locate God and adhere

struggling?  fearful?  perplexed?  look from a different height and angle…like God’s

try Ditzler’s 10 questions.  start with:  what did I accomplish last year?  what were my disappointments?  what did I learn?

Life takes time…it takes a whole lifetime.

The past?  learn from it…quickly…then let it go.

Whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ Gods has it.

simple.  clear.  listen.

show up and serve…everything else is distraction.

let her talk

transparency:  the less you hide, the less you have to carry

prep work.  homework.  it saves a lot of embarrassment.

allow

 

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Yes, it has been quite a while…

Today’s teachable moment came when my sister owned up to feeling under spiritual attack.  She was unaware how familiar I am with the subject so when I suggested a counter-attack, she recoiled.

This is the back story:  Shortly after I deleted my other web sites this Summer, my brother and I focused some attention on our sister who has been living in Alaska for over 35 years.  We knew that, whenever we called her, she was alone…and had been for a few days…and was never sure where her husband was nor when he would be home.  My brother took steps to investigate.

In 1979, our sister suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and partially blind.  Her husband moved them to Alaska where he wanted to retire from the Army.  Turns out, my now former brother in law has been living in a different town in Alaska with another woman…for who knows how long.  Shortly after we found out, said brother in law had the marriage ‘dissolved’ and set plans in motion to have my sister relocated here…the town where I live.

My brother and I went house hunting for my sister; the house was paid for by her ex.  I had 10 days to set up housekeeping and prepared to spend a few nights with her.

I had not seen my sister in 20 years when she arrived at the airport last month.  She was not in good health.  In fact, in the last 5-6 weeks, my sister has been to the ER twice and admitted to hospital once … for 4 days.  I have resigned to live with my sister, now, as her full-time care giver.  For now, anyway, I have given up living on my own, in my own home.

Fast forward to this morning… I was met with repeated hostility from my sister.  Upon questioning, she revealed her frustration with her condition and situation…which is not a new frustration.  Because my sister and I have, independently of each other, grown to have strong faiths in God and a reliance on His guidance, we often talk about spiritual matters…and rather candidly.

This morning, however, we discovered our approaches to spiritual warfare are not the same.  The word she uses for her defense is “resistance.”  I, on the other hand, prefer to “counter-attack” but with a twist.

I find that I am most vulnerable to spiritual attack when I am focused on my own agenda.  This morning’s spiritual attacks were concerning my attempts to have a weekend ‘off’ from being my sister’s 24-hour caregiver.  I had arranged for home aide.  I had arranged for my little blue wonder car to be fixed and aligned.  I had pulled out my camera and gear.

It started at 7AM, when the home aide company called with bad news…the aide was in the ER.  Without the aide’s assistance, I would not be able to make the appointment to get the car aligned.  No alignment, no road trip.  No road trip, no photography.  Furthermore, the camera batteries were dead.  etc. etc.

Hence, the discussion on spiritual warfare.

But I am not about to just “resist” any efforts of darkness to foul my life.  I am going to turn these frustrations into Grace, and here is how and why:

1) I first look at what is being threatened…in this case, my ‘vacation.’

2) I then accept the strong possibility that plans are to change.

3) Next, I look for a way to change my focus from a ‘my’ thing to a ‘God’ thing.

4)  I advertise it; some people call it ‘witnessing…’

…which is where you come in.

My life has not been what I had intended, hoped, or thought it would be.  In fact, I keep being asked by ‘life’ to give up my life as I have known it.  The result, each time, has been an increasingly clearer connection to God…the best agenda anyone could hope for.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.