I can no more describe the yearning for the soft whisper of God’s call than I can describe the pull of the sea to a land locked lover. Both are deep and persistent. Both are felt more than heard and both are primordial.
The call of the sea can be frightful and wild. I am an avid sailor. I race sailboats on the inland sea most know as Lake Michigan. I’ve crossed the lake many times and have seen enough to know that if you don’t respect the lake she will find a way to rise up and splash cold water in your face; to wake you up to the dangers that abound when sailing on such a capricious sea. There is the wind sometimes burning my face red and the wash of the waves over the bow of my so small boat as she plows ahead. It is the fresh fish smell and the sparkle of the sun on the water as I seek passage to unseen shores. It is the numberless stars of the Milky Way visible in the middle of the lake on a cloudless night. It is the delicate butterfly that comes from who knows where and lands on your boat to rest and to ride across the lake with you.
But for me, the call of God is not so wild and nearly never so clear. In fact, it is not so much a call as a yearning. The Quakers call it a Leading. It is nearly imperceptible but yet powerful in its persistence. And, most often for me, the call is so soft that I wonder if this is God beckoning me forward or my own ego butting in the way. Because God’s voice is so soft and too often my own voice is so loud – I often want to wait. I want to be clear that God is calling before I move on. I want to see and feel the wind of God on my face before I lift anchor and sail on.
Sometimes, I feel like I am the land locked lover and God is calling me out to sea. It is a call that challenges my comprehension. But I have come to learn that if I wait until I am certain, I will never act. I have come to understand that if I think God is calling, then I must answer. The Quakers teach that if it is God calling, the “way will open” and things will pretty much work out. It is like riding in a storm on the lake. You have to trust your instincts and trust your boat. And trust God.
The wind is blowing.
God is calling.
Now is the time to
Epilogue: A friend of mine told me that nightly, she tries to write a 17 syllable Haiku to describe her day. Following her lead, I try to hone the message I glean from my daily meditation, prayer and journaling down to 17 syllables. The above is one.
Michael Soika has been a community activist for more than 30 years working on issues of social and economic justice. His work for justice is anchored by his spiritual formation first as a Catholic and now as a Quaker.