When We Set Out

Let Spirit Steer Us


Teaching me how to steer the 30-foot-long sailboat he built, my father would say, “It’s the sail that follows the wind, and the rudder that follows the sail.” The sail, by its nature, will catch the wind and lean into it. The rudder is for steering once we’ve set sail.

Our soul is like a sail. Once hoisted, it’s filled by the wind of Spirit, which establishes our course and direction. Our will is our rudder; its job is to follow where the soul filled with Spirit leads, helping to steer our way. When we lean on will to make things happen, we can grow stubborn, confused or lost. Clear sailing comes when we’re being carried toward a vision greater than our self, feeling wholly alive along the way.

Scudding along the sea, my father was living once for all time, feeling the sensation of all life in that moment. We all yearn to live in these moments forever, yet even a taste of aliveness can fill, sustain and refresh us in the midst of daily tasks.

We all face times beyond our control when life doesn’t follow our designs and we’re asked to work with life and not fight, curse or hide from it. When insisting on our way, we can get so tangled in our will that we can’t find or feel the wind of Spirit. During these times—when we fear there is no meaning and it seems there’s nothing holding us up—our will can puff, snap and flap about in a desperate attempt to fill what looms as an empty life.

But even setting out on the sea, it’s never easy. My father remarked, “It’s always harder to sail toward a fixed point, because you will inevitably have to cross the wind several times to get there.” By contrast, a boat moves its fastest and cleanest when it simply follows the wind. It’s the same when we listen for where life is taking us, instead of busily thinking about where we’re going. Devoting ourselves to experiencing the journey, rather than determining a destination, we discover our way.

Like a sail, our life must be out in the open before the wind will show its face. Likewise, Spirit fills us when we can inhabit our true nature. We miss what awaits us if we hover too close to the shore of our past, our family, someone else’s dream for us, or an old identity. To feel the wind in our face, we must leave the shallows and harbors for the deep. Only then will the larger, timeless destination show itself and our soul be filled enough with Spirit that our smaller self will have no choice but to engage in steering us toward all that matters.

Adapted excerpt from The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom that Waits in Your Heart, by Mark Nepo (Atria). Connect at MarkNepo.com and ThreeIntentions.com.

This article appears in the May 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Leafy Greens Lower Risk for Heart Disease

Teenagers that eat few leafy greens are at triple the risk for enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle, reducing blood pumping volumes, than teens that eat greens.

Physical Activity Deters Alzheimer's

Walking, dancing, gardening and other physical activities significantly improve brain volume and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Gooseberries are Good for the Gut

Malaysian subjects with gastrointestinal problems had less pain, vomiting and sleep loss when receiving an ayurvedic remedy known as Indian gooseberry.

Saunas Lower Blood Pressure

Four to seven saunas a week halved high blood pressure risk in a study of 1,621 Finnish men.

Positive Outlook Powers Osteoarthritis Patients

People with osteoarthritis that wake up feeling enthusiastic about getting things done in their day end up exercising more and feeling less plagued by symptoms.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Left untreated, periodontal disease not only puts a pet at risk for pain, infection and tooth loss but it can also cause damage to the heart, kidneys and liver.

Pick Me Up Herbs

There are several herbs which restore the body and replenish the nervous system. Take advantage of these herbal allies, especially in the cold winter months, when our bodies are ready to receive yin nourishment.

Flu Epidemic and the Immune System

While exposure to bugs can’t always be avoided, much can be done to boost the immune system to lessen their impact and potentially save lives.

Benefits of Micro-Biome Restorative Therapy For Pets

Like humans, a companion animal may struggle with gastrointestinal issues, allergies and a weakened immune system after years of exposure to antibiotics, other drugs, environmental chemicals and poor diet.

Workshop on Natural Approaches to Mental Health

Phyllis Light, the legendary master herbalist from Alabama, will be teaching a two-day workshop, Natural Approaches to Major Mental Health Issues.

Sage Plant-Powered Health Now Offering Plant-Based Tours to Italy

Tracie Hines, founder of Sage Plant-Powered Health, is leading two Inspired in Italy tours from September 21 to 28 (ladies only) and October 4 to 11 (couples/singles).