Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Memorization Challenge: Disturb Us Lord

Who knew that as I faced one of the busiest weeks of the year I would turn to the inspiring words of an age-old English privateer. In fact, this week will mark the close of what has been an intensely dense three months, packed with studies, performances, writing projects and presentations. It's for this reason that the posts have been sparse lately.

Here I am contradicting the very advice I've posted on my own blog; I've made myself so busy that I can't appreciate the little things, or share them, like I need to. On the other hand, all of us have moments from time to time when we can look back at an arduous trail, once so barren and threatening, and in our swollen feelings of accomplishment see instead a verdant walkway filled with gentle sunshine. These difficult periods in our life are what make us. They test us and try us. They work like a whetstone against our purest character.

Here's a personal example. I have a little brother, Chip, who loves to play basketball. A year ago he was placed on the seventh grade basketball team with a group of boys a year older than him. The resulting basketball season didn't award him much playing time and it certainly didn't inflate any of his stats. It was a school of hard knocks, playing against boys that were bigger and more aggressive than him on the court.

This year he signed up to play basketball in the city's parks and recreation league where he was put on a team with kids his own age. He had his first game this week and, truth be told, had a quiet first half. But after half-time, when his coach gave him the go-ahead to take some shots, that brother of mine stepped up and took full advantage of the experience his proverbial rougher seas had given him the year before.

It started with a jump shot, nothing too flashy. He threw the ball up and it came down, nothing but net. The next time down the court, he pulled up a few feet from behind the three-point arc and launched another. Swish! The momentum started to build and before the end of the quarter he sank two more jumpers. When the fourth quarter began he revved up his engines again. As he drained shot after shot, the spectators in the gymnasium slowly worked themselves into a mild frenzy. The streak continued and each time he launched the ball towards the hoop, silence filled the room until the net's beautiful "swoosh" sound cued the the crowd to go wild. By the end of the game, he scored 18 points in the second half alone and for a seventh grader, that's not bad. Hey, for any player that's not bad.

Chip's performance illustrated a difficult lesson we could all remember more often. It takes hard times to make us great. Sir Francis Drake, the great naval captain, understood that all too well when he signed on to fight the Spanish Armada on behalf on England or when he circumnavigated the Earth in the 1500s. His credo was beautifully immortalized in a prayer, attributed to him, called Disturb Us Lord.

My favorite line in this is "Where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars." It's absolutely moving.

Disturb Us Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of ours hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

-Sir Francis Drake 1577