One early morning in 2008, I was crying out to God feeling most afflicted by my Divorce, Depression, and losing my Dog. I call it my 3D year. I was in a state of great fear about my future, and at the same time, grieving my great loss. I was afraid, and I was sad all at once. Fear and sadness are just not good things to mix together.
That same day God heard, and answered me. He sent me a postcard.
It was a brochure from the monastery located in the Monteagle Mountain, inviting me to their upcoming retreat program. It wasn’t the retreat that intrigued me. It was the verse they printed at the bottom of the brochure. It read: And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing.
I was a new Christian then, and even with me, that verse was familiar. Ever since then, lilies held a very special place in my heart field.
Fast forward three and a half years. I found myself in Hawaii. God did provide so much more than he did for the lilies. He always sent me a new job, a new friend, a new therapist, and a new rental studio in time and even though I had nothing to fear since God was taking care of me so perfectly, I feared. Anxiety runs in my blood.
I had been living in Hawaii for about two and a half years by then. I was quickly entering into my yet another depressive episode which would last almost a year. Fear. Sadness. Sense of isolation. Total darkness. Dreadfulness. Hopelessness. Extreme desire of ending my life. Deep anger- so deep that I did not even realize it was there. I don’t need to pull out my depression check list that my first psychologist provided long ago.
Your mind feels like it’s intoxicated by 100 Nyquil pills. Your heart is just… indescribable. Imagine waking up on a deserted island. Imagine Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. Imagine the fear you must feel in your heart when you realize that you have no way out. Imagine you don’t have the functioning brain to process that dreadful input and figure something out. Imagine waking up on an isolated island alone every morning like it is your first morning there.
On one of those mornings, I made myself go to the Sunday Mass. Driving to the first morning service around 7 am, I studied the car right in front of my Jeep. I was trying to decode the license plate. This car had a license plate number <GAS 830> So what did I do? As soon as the mass was finished, I drove to Costco to get Gas at 8:30.
Once I got there, I pulled into one of the pumps. I parked my car, and to my surprise, Dave, my neighbor paddler, was pumping gas into his pick-up truck right in front of me. Naturally, I walked up to him and after exchanging hello, I asked the question I always ask him when our small talk came to an end. “When are you going to sail?”
Dave has a small sailing boat that he purchased when he first moved to the island. He dreams of sailing in his little boat one day, off to Maui, and he has been fixing his boat for the last six years or so. When I first met him at the canoe club, he was finally putting a new engine in. That was two years ago.
“Well, you know, I am still working on the boat!”
I thought once you get the engine in, it’s set to go. But clearly it’s not that simple.
I was driving to work the next morning at 5 o’clock. It was still dark, and on the quiet Ali’i drive, I was crying, praying and driving at the same time. Oh and I was listening to the music, too. I think it was Hymn by Magna Canta.
Then I heard.
I heard a quiet voice asking me a question. It was breaking through the upbeat rhythm of the song I was listening.
‘When are you going to sail?’
It was asking. My heart sank for a second. It was so sudden. I wasn’t planning on sailing.
‘But… I don’t have a boat,’ I was listening to myself answering the voice.
‘You are the boat. You are your own vessel.’
Our brief conversation ended. It was short, but powerful. So powerful that quickly, I decided to set sail and leave the island. And to validate my decision inspired by that quiet conversation that took place on that early morning commute, I sold my one-man canoe; My beloved canoe that had daisy flower drawings on it. I sold my Jeep and paid off my car loan. I used whatever money I had left with in buying a plane ticket to fly back home. My remaining money was to be spent while I searched for my next move. But soon, I found myself in the field. I had become that seemingly helpless lily flower once again. No job. No savings. No future. No house.
In searching for meaning to sustain me in my confusing times, I started this blog and named it Lilyboat. I couldn’t think of any better name.
These are my quiet letters. Letters I must write just because… they keep me alive. These broken letters keep me afloat.
I will tell you a secret.
As much as I once wanted to die, I so desired to live. As much as I once wanted to disconnect myself from the world, I so desired to find me a home in this broken world. I am a castaway sailing on her small boat. No engine. No paddle. Just me and my boat riding the current powered by the wind.
Lilyboat. That says all that I am.
I am a little Lily God cares for.
I am also a boat, my own vessel.
I don’t know where I am going, but–
I am going.