Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: The Island

I come here sometimes.  To my island. 

It's not usually a planned trip but I keep visiting regularly, showing up on the shores to watch a sunset or listen to the crashing surf.  It's gorgeous here, of course: lush and green and shady in the middle and sun-sparkled and jeweled on the edges.  I can get comfortable here.  Burrow down and be alone.  Forget the world. 

Or, try to forget the world.  But try as I may, the world infringes.  I bring my luggage with me and inside the leather flaps are stowaway pieces of world.  A worry.  A care.  A list or fear.  Somehow I forget to pack my joys.  The island is not about joy.  It's about fret.  It's about stew and ponder.  About pick and second-guess.

The pieces of world get stuck in the sand of my island, and I am forced to navigate them over and over on my circuits around the perimeter.  They trip me up when I have to flee from sea-storms, which crop up with surprising frequency; there's always a new, blustery problem blowing ashore.

And I hunker down -- by myself -- to figure it all out.  I have to survive alone, because that's what my island is: solitary.  Unknown and unapproachable.  Self-contained.  No outside help allowed.  Anyone else might mess up my system of fret and wallow and worry.  They might organize my pieces of world into 'donate' and 'trash' piles, and my beach would be clean. 

I like it just the way it is, messy and unwelcoming.  Pretty from afar but treacherous up close.

But I get lonely.

So when I notice that there's a salt-crusted bridge on the far side of my island, I'm intrigued.  It is mossy and weather-worn.  Old wood that used to be golden and supple is now splintered and gray.  I step on it and peer across the turquoise water to the horizon. 

There is something out there.  It glows.  It pulses.  It dances.  A sweet wind emanates from there to blow the hair from my furrowed brow.

But to step away from my brooding island, where all the problems are about to be solved by me feels like an anchor.  Still, the pulsing glow looks promising, and I could use a dance...

I can cross the bridge.  As soon as I give myself permission to.


Probably, when I get to the other side of the bridge, abandoning the need to harbor my own worries and doubts instead of allowing a comforting word or piece of advice, you'll be there.  And you.  And you, too.  And my husband.  And some strangers.  And my God (who's been with me all along, waiting for me to notice).  You'll all be dancing and smiling, wondering what took me so long. 

And you'll have to help me burn down that old bridge so that the messy island -- which is like a beautifully tantalizing black hole -- will drift away across the ocean.  Until it no longer holds any pull on my heart.

We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us at Melissa's place today! Grab the button, link up, and then read a few others to encourage them as they walk this journey of intentional living.


  1. I have been to that island too. Your words touched my heart so deeply. It is the second very clear heaven sent message to me on this very day to turn some things over to God and to realize it is in my weakness that He can show the beauty and power of His strength. So, cross the bridge! I will see you there!

  2. Take your time crossing that bridge Sarah. We all need that time to be introspective. To worry, to fret, to problem solve... on our own. It is important to be an island from time to time. An island feels no pain (as paul simon aptly suggests) ... You are safe on your island really and people who love you will always wait.


  3. So often if there is nothing to worry about, I FIND something to worry about. I drive my husband crazy! But yet I don't want him to help me stop's a problem I have!

    Beautiful writing, Sarah, as always.

  4. That was beautifully said. The toughest thing for me is to remember that the bridge works both ways. I often find myself back on the other side without even realizing when or how it happened. I have found that it takes a lot of self-reflection and prayer to stay on the right island.

  5. I love and am astounded by the clarity with which you see yourself here. I think most people would too caught up in being on that island to see it was an island and just figure it was the world entire. Or they think it's just worry, and not an island that you actually retreat to, as you have put it. It's amazing to me that you can see how you are deriving some kind of psychological benefit (a declaration of independence or need for control, maybe? I'm just going off your line: "where all the problems are about to be solved by me feels like an anchor") from that island, even if it's not happiness, per se. Or even connection. And while there on that island you choose that benefit over happiness and connection. (If it IS a need for control, then, as a friend, I might urge you to look even deeper and ask yourself in a VERY LOVING WAY what it is you fear so much that makes it necessary for you to be the one to control things.)

    And as Alita said, the ones who matter will always be willing to wait for you, should you ever decide it's more important to just be happy, to reach out and connect.

    *Please know I use language of choice and decision not to lay blame or judgment, but simply to emphasize that you have the power to choose. That everything in life, even this, is a choice. It's a comment meant not to blame, but rather to liberate.

  6. I venture to an island similar to this one, but then I get angry that I'm the only one there. I fail to realize we're all on our separate islands, all angry about it, and all keeping watch on that elusive bridge.

    Here's hoping you cross yours.

  7. Oh I have been on that island and oh my gosh do you capture it so beautifully. Sarah you are such a magnificent writer, seriously!

    Anyway, enough gushing I have been there and it so hard to cross that bridge and while I have tried to burn it down I find sometimes i need to hope across it for my own sanity, sometimes being on an island can help as long as we know when to get off!

  8. usually I am a rare visitor to the island....but lately i think I have been stuck on one. thanks for this post and making me feel like getting off.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?