If someone asked me to ‘quick – pick a word to describe the current state of the world,’ I’d choose rudderless.
Right now, it feels like we’re each in a dinghy being tossed around relentlessly on unforgiving seas without any way of directing ourselves toward something firm, stable, and ultimately life-sustaining.
We are – collectively and individually – uncertain and uneasy, and we want life to be better, right this very minute.
But that’s not happening.
Our reactions are overly dramatic. Not because we’re bad people, but because we’re human people, and we get tired of being adrift.
We feel rudderless, but we are not.
Let’s think about rudders for a sec…A rudder is a basic tool, a simple, relatively thin slat of wood or metal used to steer a craft. It’s not a motor and it will not propel a boat forward. However, theoretically, a boat will move toward its end goal via the wind or the current if someone strong and steady on board persists in using this plain device. The slat is called a rudder if it’s mounted on the back of a boat or a ship.
But dinghies often don’t have rudders.
Instead, they have oars.
Oars steer a boat. With a little elbow grease, they also move it forward.
As I stood at the base of the Currituck Lighthouse last week, I thought about this.
Built in 1875, the lighthouse is an old version of what mariners refer to as an ‘aid to navigation.’ The brochure I picked up said the light “filled the ‘remaining dark space’ on the North Carolina coast between the Cape Henry light to the north and Bodie Island to the south.” Even today, its automated flashes come on at dusk and cease at dawn, alternating 3 seconds on and 17 seconds off, a burst of 1,000 watts visible for 18 nautical miles.
The light serves as a guidepost.
A beacon of hope for seafarers caught in darkness.
What fills your dark space right now?
Are you looking for the light, picking up your oars, and pulling hard to move toward it?
The spiritual life is not idle. If we don’t pay attention to where we’re headed, we drift out to places that stir fear in our hearts.
When you get tired of rowing, are you keeping an oar in the water so you can steer and shift direction?
Are you continually fighting the wind and currents, or are you navigating them with a discerning eye and a hopeful spirit, believing that in time they will carry you closer to where security and peace reside?
When we fill our minds and time with enriching words and activities – moments that redirect us toward the Source of Love and all strength – we are better equipped for the long and unpredictable journey.
No matter what’s happening for us right now, let’s stay ‘oars in.’
And more than anything, let’s trust in the surety of the Light.
I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12