Life is like paddling a canoe through rapids, still water, crooks and eddies on a winding river like the Cossatot. We only see a piece of the river at a time; but above it, say in a forestry helicopter, the whole trip is apparent. In my canoe journey, I am thankful for the pilot in the helicopter and the three “D’s”—namely, dovetailing, direction and destination.
You have noticed, I am sure, that many circumstances of life dovetail in the most intricate ways. It is as if some great intelligent designer arranged well-positioned points of intersection in often unlikely ways. For example, think back to the moments you met and developed relationships with people who have turned out to be essential companions in your earthly journey. Was there something odd or unusual about the meetings? Could you just as easily have not been there when the individuals emerged? That’s what I mean—we see an enigmatic and well-timed event planner behind our relationships. The same is true of significant events of our lives. Ponder the way you came into your profession, your livelihood, your avocations and, yes, even your tastes. There is, in short, a clandestine purpose that gets clarified systematically in a universal system of dovetailing that often seems random but, upon reflection, is methodical. Forrest Gump pointed out at Jenny’s grave that life seems both random and planned and Hamlet of Denmark contended that there is method in this madness. Pondering the ostensibly arbitrary motions of the weirdly spiraling DNA ladder, our gratitude is so great that we want to hug the Danish prince and the Alabama shrimper.
As to direction in life, that same intelligent design seems to be at work. Like everyone I know, I have gone through many periods of “what ifs” and “if onlys.” Not many days pass that don’t contain some speculation of, “Wish I’d said that,” or “What if I had just walked away.” But there is a North Star pull that we recognize only in retrospect, a road sign that was not there as we passed it, but clearly there in the rear-view mirror. Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out that all things take on a pleasing form in the eyes of memory—maybe that is why, we feel aimless in the moment but see the design looking back, that is, after we get to where we were going—you know, destination.
Does anyone ever arrive? Are we not continually striving rather than arriving? I remember Peggy Lee’s haunting song, “Is that all there is?” It is a song about this very thing. When we achieve some goal, be in graduation or retirement, there is something that compels us to move on to other goals. The phrase “You’ve got it made” is meaningless. In the Christian worldview, for example, some believe that the salvation experience is all there is to the Christian walk. Nope. Because Christians recognize the great cost paid for salvation, we are compelled to live a life motivated by awareness of the price paid, thus becoming self-sacrificial as well.
So, I am deeply grateful for the three “D’s” of life, for all the enigmatic but wondrous dovetailing that continues to offer new adventures, for the direction that was dim as I walked the road but crystal clear in retrospect and for the destination planned for me, a greater place than ever entered the mind of man. There is a river. There is also a pilot above it who understands and influences the whole trip.