All-In

By Julie Voorhees

Whoever joined together the word smooth with the word sailing?

My ideal sailing adventure—my smooth sailing—would be on a warm, clear and calm ocean…with land always in sight. Warm water says jump in…all-in. I love to flop around in warm water. As a young girl, I secretly wanted to be one of those underwater mermaids at Florida’s Weeki Wachee tourist attraction. Yet I am as much mermaid material as I am a smooth sailor.

For me, clarity while smooth sailing means vision in all directions…with no unexpected encounters. Similarly, underwater clarity means I can avoid creepy creatures above, below and beyond…no surprises. Calm waters invite peace and steadiness without threat of upheaval. However, with sailing, the more squally, the better the adventure. It would seem that my ideal smooth sail is as unrealistic as my mermaid-like, no surprises, risk-avoidant self.

I am a sailor…by marriage only. Though my heart is captivated by the captain, my soul would rather be on land. Curious how often I find myself in conflicting, unpredictable, tumultuous, unfathomable waters. Stretching beyond my comfort zone is an understatement when I have one foot on a moving boat and the other foot on the dock.

Even ashore, the ocean’s disturbing motion lingers long after a sail. I walk unsteadily along the beach avoiding more waves, spray, rocks and other impediments in my path. The unending, obstacle-strewn beach stretches ahead of me like my word for the year, pursue.

My word, pursue, challenges me to consider how to respond in sailing and in life when rough waters are present. Pursue does not avoid, nor minimize, nor unwillingly tolerate, nor precariously straddle the gulf between all-in and all-out. Pursue weighs the options, decides and then moves onward. Powerful waves surge onto shore…all-in. The retreating water washes back out into the ocean…all-out.

All my previous words for the year have contributed to this time and space where pursue now requests something more of me. My words, like waypoints in sailing, mark progress points made as well as setting the course ahead. Pursue beckons me onward, keeping me on course for this year.

I glance back over my shoulder and notice the waypoints I have passed. At embolden, I asked for God’s help. Our grandson’s three-year old voice whispers through the wind. Jack comforted his howling little brother resisting his car seat and sleep, “It’s okay, Lukey, God will take care of you.” Jack’s simple faith contrasts to Granna’s cautious faith…I keep walking.

Release is where I stumbled over an old pattern of avoiding risk. Radical was the illusive waypoint that renounced all or nothing thinking. Willing acknowledged being on the right path. Just past open, I began noticing little treasures along the way…discarded, broken, insignificant bits of sea glass. A friend’s blog title pleasantly brings me back to the moment at hand as I ‘Gather the Fragments’. The sun is high in the sky; I pursue noticing and collecting the little treasures of fragments, words and insights along the way.

Back at home, I add my journey’s bounty to a container with previous discoveries. As my collection grows bit by bit, so does my gratitude, and my perspective…along with extra fragments of faith. My new, bigger, transparent vase is already half-full. This larger container holds all my assorted pieces together in one place, at one time…all-in.

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