Tag Archives: purpose

Where’ya goin’?

seagulls-birds-beachJonathan Livingston,
where art thou?

For those who grew up in the 60′s and 70′s the memory of Jonathan Livingston Seagull isn’t that distant.  Let Wikipedia refresh us …

[ Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a fable in novella form about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection. It was first published in 1970 as “Jonathan Livingston Seagull — a story.” By the end of 1972, over a million copies were in print, Reader’s Digest had published a condensed version, and the book reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list where it remained for 38 weeks. In 1972 and 1973 the book topped the Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United   States. ] – from Wikipedia.com

I grew up on the West Coast of Florida, along the sugar white sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico … no shortage of gulls there! In my photos, gulls are prominent rather than a lofty eagle or mighty hawks … gulls are ubiquitous with life near the beach.

seagulls-birds-flightToday, I live near the mountains of Southern California where I’m remembering those gulls – their gawking and squawking and bullying one another for a scrap of whatever could be stolen from beach visitors. They’re really a needy, greedy flock who would snatch from one another without hesitation! Still, when a gull takes flight, there is a certain beauty, even in these ill-mannered, self-absorbed birds. It’s easy to see where Richard Bach got his inspiration for the novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull!

seagull-bird-flight-beach-Where-Ya-GoinSo, I’m asking myself, today, “Where’ya goin’?” Am I mulling around the shoreline, fighting for every scrap, or am I a bird in flight? What’s my perspective today … bound to the ground or sky high? In reality, I don’t imagine gulls in flight are really thinking heavenward; they’re looking down to find their next quick morsel and return to the motley crew along the shoreline.  Maybe, in this life we’re caught between heaven and earth – it’s just the way it is!

As I start a new day and a new week, I’m aware that there must be a sense of flight in my own daring approach to the future.  I must be “goin’” somewhere, or I’m just another dirty bird stuck on the shore until time is up!

My heart cries out, “Lord, lift me up and set me on a course that is life!”  What does that look like?  Don’t know – isn’t that part of the fun and adventure of it all?!  How far dare I go from the familiar, and is it possible to think and act like a bird of a different feather?

Heavenly Father,

“In You we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)… from You, I draw life and breath … in You, my true life is headed and my true “self” is discovered!  Lift me up, this day, from grabby ways and crabby attitudes.  Help me to be more than I can be, alone.  Free me from comparing myself to those around me.  I press into that place of work and flight, and effort and rest, where you teach me better ways.

Whatever the outcomes of “today”, may I be a better person, because I have looked to You and trusted in your sustaining Presence in my life.  Through You, I come to realize who I am.  Amen.

Stuart Swann


Solitude, aloneness, and loneliness

island-lighthouseI need people.  No, I don’t need people!

You know, sometimes, I like to be lost in the fray of activity, the swirl of things-going-on, the hub of “what’s happening now” … people, busyness, events, and all the things we do to be connected in this social world.

Then, there is that time of retreat, of separateness from all that is “other”.  What about “ME”?  I just want my own thoughts, my own space and schedule, and no expectations to be anything other than just myself.  After awhile, that gets incredibly boring (being alone with myself), and the whole engagement/detachment cycle starts over again!

Do you ever think something like, “Where in the world am I in the midst of all this?” or “What is my place in the world?”

The ways I respond to solitude, aloneness, and loneliness make a great difference in my ability to re-engage with others.  It might be just an hour of down-time, or it might be the evening, or it could be a prolonged period.  Some busy parents never seem to have that moment!  Other people can have too much time on their hands (so, they become bloggers?!).  Sometimes in life, though, each of us has to face the feeling of being “alone”.

Is it good, or is it bad?  Well, I guess that has a lot to do with how we approach it.  These times remind me of priorities and focus; I have the chance through solitude to re-calibrate my purpose and direction.  Most of all, these times – be they brief or prolonged – allow me the opportunity to commune with God who loves me and calls me by name.  In these quiet and separate times I find myself both comforted and discomforted:  comforted to know that I am never really alone, discomforted to realize my existence is so interwoven with relationships – I’d better pay attention to them!

Where does detachment lead you in your thoughts and feelings?  Does it invite you into prayer, insight, and action, or does it head into a sense of lonely desperation?  Does being separate from the swirl of human activity make you pensive and creative, or do you become fidgety and anxious?  I’m familiar with these responses.  I try to let them remind me to draw renewal from the well of life.  There, at the well, is communion with my Creator, my Savior, and my Sustainer.  I unite again with the Lord of Life before returning to the interactions and tasks of being a social being – BEING FULLY HUMAN!

It really isn’t “Me, against the world!”  Instead, “What can ‘Me’ do … in … and for … and with ‘the world’?  What can ‘Me’ be in that place and with the people whom God invites me to share in this gift of existence?!”

I need people.  No, I don’t need people!  Who am I kidding? … I need people, and people need me!  You need people, and people need you!

Stuart Swann

Jesus taught …  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.   And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  (Mark 12:30-31, KJV)