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Finding Your Internal Anchor

Sister Doreen’s Reflections

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

One of the landmarks I have on my spiritual journey that I have posted for myself and ponder frequently is “Open up to Wisdom and Love”. It is posted in my heart much like you could post a magnet reminder on the fridge!

I found Thich Nhat Hanh’s comment to be an interesting thought that came to me as I was standing on the rocks of SAX’s point, Victoria BC thinking about my own anchor and his quote. I took the picture of the anchor poised on the rocks just as a cruise ship passed.

What is my anchor? What anchor do I use when feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky?

What anchor do I need when I know that I have boundaries that need to be reviewed and changed, boundaries that I have created to protect me; or when I find myself trying to live up to the expectations of others; or when I struggle with ‘I must be love and appreciated by everyone, otherwise I am worthless.’

Joan Chittister in her book The Monastery of the Heart wrote: “Wherever we have fixed our hearts, whatever it is to which we have given them, will determine the way we experience all that is happening to us now. Indeed, it is stability of heart, not stability of place, that is the real monastic gift. … faithfulness to the community, perseverance in the search for God – is the mooring that holds us fast when the night is at its deepest dark, and the noontime sun sears the spirit.”

What gives me stability of heart? What have I fixed my heart on? What calling card, whisper, mantra comes to me that affirms my commitment to God and to those around me? What sentence or phrase gives me stability of heart, an anchor? What have you fixed our heart on? What calling card, whisper, mantra comes to you that affirms your commitment to God and to those around you? What sentence or phrase gives you stability of heart, an anchor?

I share some of my own whispers and encourage you to sit quietly and find your own verse or sentence that expresses your desire and longing for God and for care for your neighbours, that anchor that affirms your own commitment.

Perhaps the most used whisper in my ear is taken from the message translation of Luke 1:28 “You are beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God is with you.”

Or the inscription on the ring given at Life Profession “My beloved is mine and I am His” from the song of Solomon 2:16

And others:

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ‘” – Jeremiah 29:11

“God came to me and said I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you … you are mine” – Jeremiah 31:3

Each night at Compline at the Convent we are reminded “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, …”- Psalm 17:8 – and – “We forget that we are Your home.”

“I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

Psalm 139:10 “Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

Whatever anchor we need in the ups and downs of life, it is important that we have them stored and ready for us when they are needed. The rock to which the anchor is fastened (whatever that anchor for us might be) is that tenacious and unconditional love of God. it is so well expressed in the following song from Source: CPWI Hymnal #564

1 Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
   when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
   When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
   will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!

2 Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,
   when the breakers roar and the reef is near?
   While the surges rage, and the wild winds blow,
   shall the angry waves then your bark o’erflow? [Refrain]

3 Will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
   when the waters cold chill your latest breath?
   On the rising tide you can never fail,
   while your anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]

4 Will your eyes behold through the morning light
   the city of gold and the harbour bright?
   ill you anchor safe by the heavenly shore,   
when life’s storms are past for evermore? [Refrain]