The sea offers the seafarer two delights: the delight of leaving land, launching out towards an ever-receding horizon, riding the waves over the mysterious and dangerous depths. And the delight of homecoming, entering the safe harbour, treading familiar ground and returning to the security of community after the solitude of the sea.
Each of these delights is full of truth about ourselves and the human journey. We learn through delight. Joy is the great teacher for which suffering is a preparation, an excavation of our capacity for being.
But these two aspects of the adventure of the human journey depend on each other for their effectiveness in teaching us what our life is for and where we are really heading to.
If we don’t respect both sides of the coin we lose the spin of life. To reject the secure and familiar can lead to an addiction to danger and restlessness. We run aimlessly just for the sake of running. But if we fear too much, clinging to the apron strings of home, we don’t travel far enough from harbour and home becomes a prison.
Finding the balance – staying afloat in all kinds of weather – demands deep love and devotion. Only so can we come to the depth of understanding that allows us to live well through the day to day surface problems of life.
Anxiety and confusion arise because for so much of our lives we have only a second hand contact with reality. The first-hand contact is what we mean by living spiritually and this is given birth only from the womb of a paradox: that in our leaving is our arriving. Only in losing ourselves do we find who we are.
Laurence Freeman OSB