at sea

Let. Let. Let.

I’m not good at that. I was never good at that. I’m not a Type A control freak, exactly (witness: my house), but I have a hard time abandoning myself to various and sundry Cosmic Forces, be they personal, physical, spiritual, meteorological or digestive. (The last time I ate mussels, the things gave me such gas that I could have fueled all of Albany County for National Grid.)

But I know that I should let. Most of the time, my futile stabs at control are weak and whimpering little efforts, just tacit acknowledgments that I actually control squat. I’m aware of this pathetic global impotency of mine and everybody’s, but still, I refuse to yield. I know I ought to. I don’t.

But sometimes. Sometimes the letting happens for me. Sometimes I’m led to it, firmly but gently, and it yields a peace that feels like joy.

I am not one to thump bibles. Or wag them around. Or bonk them into people’s faces with loud, spittle-spewing talk of hellfire and damnation, as I’m not a fan of either. But I do own a few in different translations, and I flip through them once a day around bedtime, keeping my spittle to myself.

I often flip to the same ol’ pages. Some of them, dog-eared and post-it-noted, feature my All-Time All-Star Bible Passages, the ones I turn to for wisdom or uplift over and over again. I John 4:7 is top of the pops, for me: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” I read that thing, and I think, Wowza! That’s some radically inclusive stuff right there! EVERYONE who loves? Including, you know, weirdos and atheists and apostates and and folks who adhere to other religions? And annoying boobs with bad breath? ALL of those people, not just five or six of the nicer ones, are creations and reflections of God’s love, too?

I like that bit. I turn to it of my own volition all the time. But some nights, flipping away at random, I chance across other chunks of scripture without even trying. I am not saying that God necessarily directs this bedtime bible-flipping, but neither am I saying that the Almighty has nothing to do with it ever ever ever. What I am saying is this: I open myself to the possibility of an insight, whether divinely nudged or not, each time I open the book. I open myself to this same possibility each time I open a conversation, open my mind to a new way of thinking, open my heart to a new way of loving, open a door to the outside world. Insights can show up any time, but only if I give them an entrance.

And so, more bedtimes than I can count, my fingers have accidentally or not-so-accidentally noodled their way to Acts 27:15: “When the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along.”

That word again. Let.

Chris used to say this to me all the time. “Let, Amy! Let!” In the three-plus years since he died, I’ve often heard his laughing tenor, imploring me to give in and allow someone else to take over. Lately I’ve been happening upon that page in Acts at moments I need it — when I need to be told, again as always, that I control just shy of nothing in this tempestuous whorl of a world, and that my best bet, again as always, is to just sit back and see where the wind might take me. It’s taken me into dark coves of isolation, then blown me outward. It’s taken me into raging squalls of grief, then watered my eyes with sunshine.

Sometimes I manage to steer, but I kid myself when I think I’m navigating. Faith lies in letting the boat go; strength lies in not falling off. (As I kid I heard a story, which is probably 99.9999 percent not true, about some wacky ancestor on some crazy shoot of my mother’s family tree who got drunk and fell off the Mayflower. A fellow traveler must have fished him out, or I wouldn’t be here. This a total and irrelevant digression, but it stars a sloshed pilgrim with vertigo, and who doesn’t love those?)

Just a few nights ago, I was feeling sniffly and crotchety and foul — and wanting to control things, and not knowing how, and thrashing about for some power or knowledge or luck or miracle that could Make Things Happen To My Liking. I wasn’t in a mood to let. Let, schlet.  Not me. Bah.

In this cantankerous state I picked up the bible. I cracked it open. I randomly flopped over to that passage from Acts. Some force or finger blew me there, and I let myself be driven. Let. Let.

can you see him?

can you see him?

4 thoughts on “at sea

  1. Amy, somewhere Emerson writes about becoming lost while out riding and dropping the reins, trusting the horse to find the way home. It wasn’t the creature alone he was trusting, but some light beyond human will. No doubt the Sage of Concord had also read Acts. It’s interesting, how much anxiety, apology, and disclaiming is required before we (rational, enlightened participants in secular society) can speak of seeking and finding guidance in scripture. Fine post.

  2. Let go and let God. A good reminder but oh, so hard for me to do. A word that I use in meditation is Consent. Consenting to God’s will. I also flip through the Bible on a regular basis and find inspiration, guidance and support. A timely post for me. Thank you.

  3. I got home from work last night after re-reading this column on a page proof for the Times Union UnWind section. I’m reading Tolle’s “A New Earth” and this jumped off the page: “Now I understand something Jesus said that never made sense to me before: ‘If someone takes your shirt, let him have your coat as well.” To which the author replied “All it means is that sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

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