Of icebergs and health alarms, a spiritual perspective to human vulnerability

I was somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland towards sunset that evening when a rumor swirled about the ship indicating that the radar could not identify icebergs. With binoculars, I could make out several icebergs in the distance. A Titanic tremor of anxiety gripped me as I contemplated a midnight crash into an iceberg. I never determined the source or accuracy of the rumor, probably because I was one of twelve non-Russian or Ukrainian speakers onboard. Nevertheless, I didn’t ruminate about the dreaded prospect of having to abandon ship that night.

Imperfect bodies do not have to limit our lives or contributions

Ever since childhood, Kyle has relentlessly pursued life without giving in to a distorted view of himself. Those looking from the outside, unfamiliar with Kyle’s confident nature and refusal to give up on anything, might be forgiven their limited view of his capabilities and future accomplishments. Kyle’s grandmother taught him an enduring truth that he carried into adulthood, “God made you special, and it’s okay to be different.” Through the support of his parents and his faith, Kyle was determined to not buy into limitations of any kind, “Even though I was born with much shorter limbs than the average person, I know that I was not born to be an inferior individual. I was born to succeed, not to allow physical limitations to stand in the way of my dreams.”1

Practically defying the law of physics, Kyle became a champion high school wrestler in Georgia and would one day summit Mount Kilimanjaro to honor a slain American soldier. Today, he travels the country giving motivational speeches like the one he recently gave to honor the best 2014 high school athletes in southeast Missouri.

Forgiveness crucial to well-being

A siren song of anger flashed across his face and then flooded the house as he verbally attacked me.  My sailing friend for years had just pulled the rug out from underneath me with bizarre accusations and irrational remarks. For weeks, I ruminated about this incident from sun up to sundown. This outburst took place in the mid ‘90’s and I wouldn’t see this friend again until 15 years later. It left me pondering what it really means to forgive. The topic of forgiveness in individual lives spans millennia.

A diet you can easily follow

Eating a balanced meal should not be as complicated as a chemistry experiment. Is it possible to live one’s life fully without being subject to the ever-changing theories and beliefs around what constitutes good eating? No question that it is important to nourish our body, but not at the expense of our mind, heart and spirit. Famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, had an innate craving for scientific discoveries and advancement in aviation and medicine. Later in life, he set his sights on a more metaphysical view, with this intriguing remark, “If his civilization is to continue, modern man must direct the material power of his science by the spiritual truths of his God.” [Lindbergh, A. Scott Berg p484] Lindbergh traveled the globe many times eating what was set before him and feeling enriched by those with whom he came into contact.

Mental fortitude combined with “real living” usher in health as we age

Recently, I was struck by two posters of a physically fit senior man and woman located near the weight room at my local YMCA. These two models stared out at me with a menacing, Rocky Balboa attitude. The caption underneath read, “Growing old is not for sissies.”

You and I don’t need to be “sissies” either – buying into the cradle to grave view of life and a bittersweet feeling in our advancing years. Cultivating a stalwart attitude and a mental determination to counteract the headwinds of aging is a good start. But isn’t there a deeper yearning for all of us to break through the crust of decline and death to understand what life or true living is all about?