I didn’t want to go on the weekend retreat.
I had planned and paid for my trip while I was still trying to work things out with my husband.
I was going with people who were trying to work things out in their lives and I felt like I was already a failure… an outcast of the group.
I was fearful to leave my children behind during this troubled time.
I felt that it was my responsibility to stay with them until things were calm again.
I almost didn’t go but… I went.
On the boat over to Catalina Island, I stood outside in the cold sea air. The sea was rough and the bow of the boat slapped hard into each of of the crests and dips as we headed toward the island. I had to hold on to the rail so that I wouldn’t fall. I had to accept that I may get cold and wet if I wanted to stand outside and enjoy the sea air. I kept looking back to my home, at the city I lived in. I thought of my husband and I wondered what he was doing with his new life. I thought of my children and wondered what they were doing right now without me. I felt dread at the thought of my family being split up all over the city and the loss of my dreams.
I watched the mainland fade farther and farther away. I looked forward, but all I could see was the ocean… The island was nowhere in sight.
I knew it was there.
I knew that somewhere out in the ocean was the place that I would land but still… it did not appear.
Then… the ocean surrounded me… no land in any direction.
I felt fearful.
I felt that it was symbolic of my life.
I could no longer look back to the shore of my marriage, and I was unable to look ahead toward the shore of my future.
A new and different life lay ahead and like the island that I was going to, it would provide a stable landing spot once my my boat came in from sea.
I would have to trust that it was out there… even if I couldn’t see it.
The boat continued on… fighting the rough seas. It dipped and slapped and rocked and swayed and I held on.
I was a little scared.
I was also exhilarated.
I smiled and tried to find enjoyment in what I could see.
We passed sea lions swimming fast and hard… birds coasting on the ocean breeze or diving in long straight lines into the sea.
I wondered if the boat would stay afloat each time a large wave slapped up and sprayed across my face and then laughed at myself. How many times had this boat crossed this rough passage to land? Others had crossed this passage as well. I was not alone. I was not the only one who had felt scared and stuck and “in between.”
Suddenly, the island appeared out of the ocean mist ahead of me and I could once again see the shore. It wasn’t a familiar shore… It wasn’t what I was used to seeing.
I smiled to myself.
I looked back once more, still searching for the familiar outline of the mainland but… there was nothing to see.
The mainland was gone.
The island was the only place to land.
The only land in sight.
It may not be the land I wanted… I may not have wanted to go on the retreat… but that was beside the point.
It was where I now was.
“Dear God, help me to walk through the in-between times. The times when I don’t know where my life is going. Let me have faith in your plan for me. Let me believe that there is a stable shore where I will soon land.”