“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, — but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894) American Writer
I have sailed with the wind and against it. My ship has crashed against the rocks. I have drifted at sea, lost and alone. Once, I even tried to anchor my ship and I was miserable. I then went back to 60 to 80 hour weeks and became happy again. If I retire, I will explode. Retirement is not for me. When I get my port in heaven, I want to be used up. I want to have accomplished my wildest dreams which are still coming to me daily.
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!”
– Jonathan Winters (1925 – 2013 ) American stand-up comedian
After I tried to retire a few years ago I realized that I had abandoned my ship at sea and it was not coming back to me. I was settling. I was stationary. I had stopped growing and truly living!
Then, I realized that I had not gone through all the loss and tragedy in my life only to be a softie and a lazy person. I had suffered, suffered great loss and had come out the other side of the ‘dark night of the soul’. What was I going to do now?
“What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”
– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) German Philosopher
The calamity in my life had not killed me. It truly had made me stronger and wiser and more resilient. Something had to be done with all those experiences. All that strength had to be channeled into something somewhere!
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
– Mark Twain (b: Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835 – 1910) American Author and Humorist
The moment of change came twice. First experience. I was sitting at mass one Sunday morning and I was so lost, alone, broken, and lifeless. I looked to my left up the center aisle and saw a man in a suit handing out bulletins. I don’t know how, but I stood up and went over to him and said, “Hello, I am David Woodbury. Do you need any help?”. The man with whom I spoke was Dan Schwala, and he said that moment also changed his life. He gave me a stack of bulletins and asked me to hand them out after mass.
Now after 16 years of serving and being Team Leader and standing in Dan’s own shoes at times, my life changed with that moment of courage and that moment of mastering of my grief and fear.
The second moment was as follows. After I began handing out bulletins at masses. Christmas time was approaching. I had spent the many past Christmases in Waikiki, attending mass at St. Augustine by the Sea. Now I was alone. Parents and partner passed away and my business sold. I was so lost. Then I decided to volunteer for every mass that Christmas, 11 masses in total.
I will never forget handing out bulletins after each service saying, Merry Christmas hundreds and hundreds of times. To my amazement, I saw so many lost and unhappy faces. I saw so many sad faces over and over and I realized that many people were having a hard time at Christmas. Then I realized how happy I was serving and offering that word of hope, cheer, and blessing to others. I realized that I was healing and that through the magic of service, I had found my balm in Gilead! I had discovered hope!
Now, after many years, I am free. My drug of choice is service, and my healing light is volunteering to help others. When I feel the crazy taking me over, I just write another blog, make welcome calls, organize another event, encourage a teacher, or organize my service schedule. Darkness is always ready to take over and envelope us when the lights go out. I keep my lights on. When you walk into my home at night, I have my home lights on timers. I have small can lights and everything is set so that when I open my door, there is light, warmth, music, and a great greeting when I return home. Plus, there are the two little furry boos who run to greet us nightly. They are little angels!
I want to extend this greeting of light to you the reader as well. Remember the direction you may move should always be forward and remember to pull up your anchor and set sail. It will get better.
Thanks for reading!
David Earl Woodbury
Keep on Dancing!
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