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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Monday, November 21, 2011

When the boat, the ship and the helicopter fail

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
This morning one of my best friends, Deepali, came into the city to meet me for breakfast. Deepali works a crazy schedule, so I rarely get to see her. Even this morning she joined me after working the night shift at the University of California labs where she was analyzing the cells in blood. Yes. She is quite brilliant. Why she is asked to be brilliant all night is beyond me, but it did mean that she was here and wanting to grab breakfast this morning at our favourite breakfast joint, Orphan.

We drove across the city, the sky blue, the trees, sidewalks and lawns decorated in golds and reds as if a painter had gone to work all over the city, setting it aflame. At the breakfast place, we slid into a corner table and spent the next hour filling our bellies with delicious food and laughing and laughing. Deepali and I usually spend a good portion of our time together laughing. It is something I love about our friendship.

Photo property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reproduced without permission.
 When we left I felt SO full of gratitude for my friend. For her honesty (or sometimes downright frankness) and her encouragement. For her wholehearted support of whatever I happen to be working towards at any given time. And for her ability to make me laugh at myself and at the same time help me to see how blind or stubborn I can sometimes be.

Today Deepali asked me if I had heard that story about the fellow who was stranded on the rooftop, the streets all around him flooded. He was praying to God to help him. A fellow in a boat rows by and offers him a ride to safety, but he waves him on, saying "I am waiting for God to help me." A little while later a huge ship goes by and offers to rescue him, but again he tells the crew that he is waiting for God to help him. Finally a helicopter appears, hovering above him and offering to lift him to safety, but again he tells the crew that he is waiting for God to save him.

I had heard that story before, but I like to indulge Deepali because I know that she always has a point, and that her point is usually precisely what I need to hear at any given time in my life. When she finished her story, she just looked at me, smiled, and raised her eyebrows. Point taken. Sometimes I pray and pray for something, and am blind to the answer or solution when it is placed squarely in front of me just because it is not what I expected. It falls outside of the realm of what I think I am capable of. Of what I am comfortable with. In short, the solution requires that I step outside of the limitations of my own comprehension of who I am and what I should be doing with my life and entertain the possibility that perhaps God's idea--wild and scary as it might seem--may just be exactly what I need to be doing at this moment in my life.

It is not a revolutionary idea. It is rather simple, really. Pray, and then receive your answer courageously when it arrives instead of declaring it impossible to accomplish and running as fast as you possibly can in the other direction. You know what I am talking about here, friends? Yeah. I thought so!

I am feeling grateful for Deepali. For the story that she repeated to me today. And for the delivery of it from one of my best friends to my face....evidently I needed to hear it again and since the boat, the ship and the helicopter had not succeeded, God sent my dear friend Deepali to deliver it instead. And you, friends? Do you have peeps who remind you to step back and reconsider a situation from a different perspective? who remind you that conversations with God are just like conversations with anyone--the response may not be what we expected? Have you told them lately how much you appreciate their presence in your life? Why not give it a try?


  1. yes! this is an essential aspect of my spiritual life..friends have always been channels through which God has spoken..others as well..as if it was entirely meant for me even though the person was just inspired to share something in their heart.

    yesterday i met with a ghanaian woman who wanted to discuss the meaning of the Baha'i Faith. after answering a few of her questions, it was she who mostly spoke in the conversation. near the end, she commented that she could see i was 'short' in the area of reaching souls outside of the Baha'i community. my ego took defense and i asked her what did she mean, for i couldn't agree in my heart with her. she explained that i have a lot more light to share with more than just a few people in this neighborhood and that i should be limitless in sharing my light. it made me reflect for several hours afterward. in one sense i am all-embracing and encompassing with love, generosity, caring, etc. to whoever crosses my path throughout the days, wherever i am. but she made me see that i have limited my sense of capacity in terms of what else i may be able to do in service to others. i can hear myself saying things like, 'my capacity isn't great' or 'i cannot take on anything big'. these are my honest feelings but perhaps i should be open to any possibility that may develop into something i wouldn't normally consider because i put a limit on my ability..

    another great post, ariana :)

  2. Thank you for your comment, Pamela! I love your story. It is true. The only limitation to what we can achieve in this life is our own perception of our limitations. This morning I was reading a prayer by Abdu'l-Baha that said "He whom the grace of Thy mercy aideth, though he be but a drop, shall become as the boundless ocean, and the merest atom which the outpouring of Thy loving kindness assisteth, shall shine even as the radiant star." Our only limitation is the illusion that our abilities and strengths come from within us and are independent from God and the universe.