December 19 – Sugar in the Tree – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

As someone sitting beneath a tree can imagine the earth from above the trees, a heart encumbered by reality can know eternity.

As a boy, I spent many hours at sea on a thirty-foot ketch my father had built.When the sea would get rough, I’d go below where the noise and motion of the deep would pound the hull, and every toss and lurch would feel sudden and pointed.

Finding me there, my father told me how sailors, when feeling seasick, have always made their way on deck to look at the horizon.While that doesn’t prevent the pitch and drop of waves in a storm,¬†it is somehow less upsetting if the larger context is kept in view.

I have kept this wisdom close to me when pitched in storm. In truth, whether facing cancer¬† or riding the insecurity of repeated rejection or trying to surmount the most profound moments of loneliness, my greatest pains and fears have been lessened when I’ve managed to keep the largest sense of life before me like a horizon.

This is the difference between despair and faith, between the narrow point of doubt and a view long enough to sustain all life-giving possibility. It seems we suffer more when huddled below, and though the eternal perspective, the horizon of all time and all life, doesn’t remove us from our storms, it does make things bearable.

During the hardest times, keeping my eyes on the horizon has helped me endure such things as the loss of a rib, and a marriage, and a job I loved. For staying where we can keep God in view allows the ups and downs to be somewhat predictable. It even shows that suffering has its rhythm. Keeping the larger view can be the difference between thinking life is cruel and knowing that experience is a powerful ocean. In ways that truly matter, God is always in the horizon, and faith is making our way on deck, despite our pain.

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