Sometimes, to entertain themselves, the men of the crew
Lure upon deck an unlucky albatross, one of those vast
Birds of the sea that follow unwearied the voyage through,
Flying in slow and elegant circles above the mast.
No sooner have they disentangled him from their nets
Than this aerial colossus, shorn of his pride,
Goes hobbling pitiably across the planks and lets
His great wings hang like heavy, useless oars at his side.
How droll is the poor floundering creature, how limp and weak —
He, but a moment past so lordly, flying in state!
They tease him: One of them tries to stick a pipe in his beak;
Another mimics with laughter his odd lurching gait.
The Poet is like that wild inheritor of the cloud,
A rider of storms, above the range of arrows and slings;
Exiled on earth, at bay amid the jeering crowd,
He cannot walk for his unmanageable wings.
— George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)
We saw huge, white albatrosses glide on their giant wings in New Zealand in 2009. Aloft, in their native element, they are majestic, sublime.
Once captured, and mocked by sailors who force them to waddle on deck where their giant wings hamper their walk, as Baudelaire describes, they are piteous and comic. The gigantic wings which helped them soar are now comic impediments
* * *
God designs an ideal medium, aerial, terrestrial, submarine, for each of us, and we are at home and happy when we are in it. God determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (Acts 17:26). When we are in the right place, doing what we are meant to do, there is a sense of ease, a sense of soaring.
I have finally found this place. I am living in the town in which I have most longed to live, Oxford, with its heady combination of history, architecture, art, Christian and literary history, beauty, nature and stimulation.
I am beginning to get back into the work I most enjoy, creative prose, and am enjoying my blog. I am again enjoying reading. And I am enjoying the brainy, creative community in my church, St. Andrew’s, Oxford.
Of course, it took years for the pieces of the puzzle to fit together, and for me to discover work and a place which make me very happy.
Taking the time to discover the roles God has created us for, and the work which makes our souls sing—ah, these are worthwhile quests, for when we are doing the right work, and are in the right place and the right relationships, we can soar in the way we are designed to.
How about you? Have you discovered what you would like to make your life’s work? A church which permits your fullest flourishing? What are the dreams which God has placed in your heart, and are you able to work on them daily or weekly, at least a little?
What a string of personal questions! I’d love to hear your answers!