I thought there was a plan.
It was over two years ago now… but I did believe in the plan.
I don’t believe any longer.
I didn’t realize the change within me until a few weeks ago. It came up casually in conversation… something about what I sense is different in me… at that moment it was an initial thought searching for expression. I couldn’t really give this inner shift any words until this moment, as I begin to write this reflection.
Alas, if you really pressed me at that time….over two years ago… if you had asked me if there was a guaranteed plan- an established and immutable will of God for my life… if you had challenged me to state if I really thought I would live out my life with this lovely woman beside me, to be a relatively happy old man who was blessed with good health and good friends and meaningful work, I would have hesitated and said: “No, of course not. No one has that kind of life guarantee.”
Answering from my head, I would have answered that I don’t believe in that kind of plan. Of course, I don’t… I can’t… I have witnessed far too much unpredictability and the crumbling of plans… cancer, accidents, mental illness, economic downturns, divorces and all kinds of loss. In my head, I knew that I was not immune to any of these. I knew with my head what ‘transitory life’ meant: Thomas Cramner or some other early Anglican divine lovingly describes in the prayer book our need for God ‘to comfort and succour all them who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sicknes, or any other Adversity’.
And yet… and yet, I must confess to something here. I must admit that I didn’t believe my life was transitory… not really. I did believe in a happy plan. I did believe in my immunity… in my heart of hearts. I did think there was something special about me. I held to an early and deeply held belief that there was some consistency to my life and a greater meaning to how things would work out for me. In a deeper knowing than my mind, I did believe that life would work out quite well according to a contented and purposeful scheme. There was a good holding anchor within me.
I couldn’t even see the anchor- it was far too deep- the chain went down through the waves of my conscious mind and into some secure crevasse of my identity and being. The chain was solid and tight. I thought this was faith.
Robyn became sick two years ago. She barely clung to life. The ICU physician told me that she was on the very edge of life. We didn’t know what the next moment would reveal. And even though she survived and recovered, I am only now realizing what has changed in me.
In the days in ICU with her and in the weeks following surgery and recovery, a strong current came around me. It pulled up my anchor. I am now dragging the full extent of my chain. The water I find myself in is far too deep for the anchor to catch.
Is this what happens when the real splashes upon and dissolves the sugar-coated illusion? Is this what happens when knowing bypasses the mind and embeds in the body and soul? Is this what happens when the head descends into the heart?
Is this what happens when the anchor tears loose?
I am left without a plan. I still do some planning. I have a calendar full of events.
Yet, I have no plan… no clear agenda for my life that is filled with any certainties.
I know that others have known this for much of their life. Some of my friends knew this early on. There heads descended early into their hearts. I think those who live in more difficult parts of the world have learned this from the very first breaths of life.
I do know this: we are all in this drift together. It is easier to no longer have the plan… it is enough to no longer be special. I can breathe in the midst of the whims of insecurity when I recognize this truth:
that we are all in this together