When We Set Out

Let Spirit Steer Us



KieferPix/Shutterstock.com

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

City Homesteading

Across the country, people in communities of all sizes are crafting ways to grow food, build eco-homes and live in harmony with the environment and each other.

Big Breakfast, Lower Body Mass

People that make breakfast their largest meal of the day have lower body mass, while those that make dinner the biggest meal are likely to weigh more, a recent study concluded.

Zinc Inhibits Throat Cancer

University of Texas researchers have found that zinc supplements can inhibit or slow the growth of esophageal cancer cells.

Moderate Exercise Guards Against Depression

A mere one hour of exercise a week reduced depression in 12 percent of Norwegian study participants.

Antidepressants in Pregnancy Linked to Autism

Children born to Swedish mothers that took antidepressants when pregnant had a slightly higher risk of autism compared to mothers with psychiatric conditions not taking the meds.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

March 2015 Publisher Letter

This month’s Letter From the Publisher features guest writer Suzzanne Siegel, NA Chicago’s graphic designer.

Envisioning a Green World Transformed

Learn to lead an eco-friendly urban or suburban lifestyle while envisioning a world transformed at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

Support Renewable Energy Sources by Commenting on Proposed EPA Plan

New carbon standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) include subsidies for nuclear power plants by qualifying them for “clean energy” funding previously awarded only to renewables, and preferred use of nuclear in a state’s energy mix.

Rosley’s Rocks and Gems Anniversary Special at New Location

For those looking for unique ancient healing stones, crystals, rocks, gems and minerals, there’s no place like Rosley’s Rocks and Gems, which recently relocated to 4344 North Western Avenue, in Chicago.

New Meditation Booklet and Mala Beads from Made As Intended

Dawn Sprong, founder of Made As Intended, has written Meditation 101: An Overview of What Meditation is and How it Can Help You, which inspired new collections of mala beads to be added to her Made As Intended retail assortment

Don’t Miss the Green Metropolis Fair

The Green Parents Network presents the fifth annual Green Metropolis Fair, April 27, at Chicago’s historic and newly renovated Irish American Heritage Center.