Episode 41: Horizons

I spent the morning yesterday in my kayak, navigating the shores of Lake Erie in and around greater Cleveland.

It didn’t matter in which direction I turned, I found something utterly fascinating to look at. To the east was the stunning skyline of the city adorned with bridges, tall buildings, and the sun rising behind it all to cast shadows and give it depth. To the South was beach, cliff walls, grassy knolls and families gathering in the early morning for a day of play before the work week picked up again and children went back to school. To the North was the endless glitter of water and wave, light bouncing playfully off the heaving sea with ships large and small polka-dotting the landscape.

It was the look to the North that got me thinking, floating there in my kayak. The sea seemed to stretch out before me forever. It was the one direction in which I could turn and see a true horizon line, the look that left us thinking for a long time that the Earth was flat.

Well, it isn’t flat. And that changes the nature of horizons, doesn’t it. Once, it was seen as the limit. Go too far, you fall off: so, better not to approach at all. Respect the boundary. Stay within the limits. Perspective matters, and when we see our place as confined, bounded, limited we make sure that we don’t stray too far. The horizon presents to the eye a warning, and casts a shadow of fear over those who would choose to approach it. We were left to play a finite game in a finite world.

That all seems like silliness to us now. The Earth isn’t flat, and the horizon is less a limit that an invitation. We not only discovered new horizons to be explored, new lands beyond perceived limits, new opportunities that open up when known limits are transgressed – but we discovered that there is something within us that thrills at the prospect of expanding our horizons.

When we stop playing within limits, and start playing with the limits – we embody something central to the very nature of the Creator. “Behold, I am about to do something new,” she says. The old poet writes: “new occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onwards still and upwards who would keep abreast of truth.” The old pastor speaks, reminding us that “there is yet and still more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word.” We say today that God is still speaking.

The limits that what is known places on what is yet to be known can be debilitating. The vision cast by those who fear the next can narrow and confining. And the aversion to a tomorrow without limits stifles creativity, exploration, and advancement.

In my little boat, paddling towards a horizon that kept moving, kept calling me forward, I thought about what it means to test the limits and explore the unknown. Everything I experience in my sacred places leads me to believe that we are called to seek the new and then next – and wait and see what lies on the other side of a comfort the familiar engenders. Sometimes, I have to come back to that familiar place to stay grounded – but new horizons always beckon.

Ain’t this fun? Let your time with your sacred lead you to play. Explore what lies beyond the horizons that heretofore have limited your vision and bounded your options. Know that you can always come back home. Know that every time you cross a horizon, a new one will appear. Know that there is no where you can go that your Creator has not already gone before you; and where she is not already there waiting for you.

This is your life to play in. Make the most of it. There are mysteries to be explored, surprises awaiting your eyes only, challenges to be faced – and new truths to be absorbed. Accept it, and know that life unfolds in the most unexpected of ways as we travel together Into the Mystic.