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#1934 - Monday, September 27, 2004 - Editor: Jerry

    Spiritual sailboating - How to catch the wind

By Daniel W. Jarvis 09/30/2004
Sailboats, though ancient and simple, are a great example of spirituality. In their own power, they can't do anything, but when the sails are raised, they can harness the power of the wind.

There are three types of people I've encountered, who each approach spiritual "sailing" in a different way:

1. Those who sit in the boat, waiting for something to happen. These people don't believe they need to do anything to harness the wind so they float through life waiting for God to move them around. Their conclusion: "If I'm not getting anywhere, it's not my fault."

2. Those who roll up their sleeves, grab an oar, and work really hard. Convinced that "If it is to be, it must be me," they do everything in their own strength. They keep this pace up for a while, but when their lack of progress becomes discouraging and the painful blisters of hard work appear, they're tempted to give up in frustration. Their conclusion: "I'm tired and burnt out. I might as well quit trying."

3. Those who set their sails to catch the wind. Sailboaters know they can't move the boat on their own, but with the help of a steady wind they make real progress. It's a balance between the first two: God has to provide the wind, but they have to do the work of raising the sail and preparing the boat. Their conclusion: "I have to rely on God, and I'll work hard to prepare for what he wants to do in my life."

So what does it mean to "set the sails" spiritually? How can we prepare for God to work in and through our lives?

First, a successful sailor needs to know a few things. God's Word will give us the insight we need to navigate our "boat" correctly. Investing a few moments each day reading the Bible will prove to be an invaluable help as we seek to navigate the seas of life.

Second, a successful sailor needs to prepare his boat. We need to clear obstructions from our lives, get rid of things that might drag us down or throw us off course. This involves turning away from sins, eliminating unimportant distractions and prioritizing our lives to center on things that really matter.

Finally, a successful sailor has to take action. A sailboat still tied to the dock won't go anywhere. You may know a lot about the Bible, have your life in order and ready for sail, but until you untie the boat and raise the sail, you won't catch the breeze. We have to ask God what he wants us to do and then obey. It may involve risk, faith, even sacrifice. It may take us out of our comfort zones and force us into unfamiliar territory. But if we want to fulfill the mission of our lives, we must raise the sail.

The moment your sail fills with wind and your boat lunges forward, you'll know that it was worth the effort. God is ready for action the wind is blowing. Are you ready to sail?

"Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope" (Ephesians 3:20, NLT).

Daniel W. Jarvis serves on the staff of First Baptist Church on Marco Island. He has spoken in churches across the United States and has written numerous articles and books on spiritual issues. He may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]


    Vicki Woodyard   Experiencing Infinity

I am experiencing infinity right now.  I can never think about it;
however, for then I lose the experience of it.  It is as simple as it
sounds.  I can go neither forward nor backward in eternity.  I am simply

I remember watching a Little Rascals episode about the Wild Man of
Borneo.  He sat there behind thick bars chanting, "Yum, yum, eat 'em
up.  Yum, yum, eat 'em up."  We were fascinated at this exotic apeman.
How chilling and foreign he was to see.  Infinity doesn't know anything
about that, for everything is contained within it and nothing is foreign
to it.

So many things look and sound exotic to us even when we grow up and yet
we are far more foreign to ourselves than any wildmen from Borneo.  We
pour over Ramana Maharshi and Nisardagatta's words telling us that we
are the Self.  We don't get it, so we read it again and again.  The
experience of infinity seems foreign to those of us who dwell within
it.  Where in the heck did infinity go if we can't find our way in the
door?  We are like Abbott and Costello bumbling about in the cosmos
looking for--and fearing that--we will find our true nature.  Abbott!!!!

What will we do when we discover that we are It?  The game will be over
and the teams will have to stop trying to win.  The victory trophies
will be worthless and the instant replays will prove to be valueless.
Help.  Is there a Peter Sellars in the house.  We need an Inspector
Clouseau to solve the mystery of the Self before the last reel.

The media loves to dangle charismatic carrots in front of our eyes all
day long.  We sit in anticipation of more bizarre realities than we can
ever digest in one lifetime.  Does anyone care anymore who is the last
comic standing.  None of them are funny to me.  I daresay that Charlie
Chaplin would not be amused, either.

I am getting sidetracked.  The experience of infinity is neither wanted
nor needed by the dweebish little mind.  It wants more and more
televised reality and take-out spiritual food.  Forget the nourishment
of Nisargadatta telling us that we can go beyond.  Because once we get
there, what do we do?

Vicki Woodyard



Welcome to the online book version of
Arbuna, An Autobiography by a Tree

This story has delighted friends and family for more than twenty years. Now, with this online version, we hope the story of Arbuna will entertain and delight readers from around the globe.


~ ~ ~


The following is the first few pages of this book. Read the complete illustrated version at

Hello, my name is Arbuna. That may sound like a strange name for a tree, but Arbuna means “one tree” and since I live all by myself on top of this mountain, it does seem to suit me.

Now, you might think living alone up here wouldn’t be very exciting, but a most unusual thing happened to me that could only happen to a tree growing on a mountain top. So, find your favorite, most comfortable place and I’ll tell you my story.

From my first days as a sapling, I enjoyed feeling the warm rays of the sun shining on my leaves and branches. The sun’s rays felt nice and helped me grow. Each drop of rain was like a cool drink of water. The wind became beautiful music as it passed through my swaying branches and the night brought the company of a million twinkling stars. I could feel all my new branches reaching higher and higher. They shared the sun’s light, the raindrops and danced together in the wind. As days followed, more branches joined, each adding a unique and individual note to the music. I found that it was easy being a tree.

I grew so tall, I could feel the coolness of the clouds as they drifted closer and closer to the tops of my branches. I was amazed at how far I could see. One day, while I was enjoying the view, something strange happened. A little cloud drifted so close it got stuck in my branches.

At first, it didn’t bother me. I knew when the wind came along, the fluffy cloud would slip free to the music of my swaying branches. However, when the wind blew, my branches did not sway and the cloud did not move. There was no music because the wind could not reach my branches inside the fluffy cloud.

It was chilly without the sun and I missed the music, but it was impossible for my branches to feel the wind until they grew through the top of the cloud. This wouldn’t happen overnight, but trees are good at waiting.

Awakening one morning, I was relieved to feel the sunlight on my branches again. I grew excited as a storm appeared on the horizon and the wind turned blustery. But, my excitement turned to pain, for as the wind grew stronger, the music I waited for became the racket of branches knocking into each other. It hurt when twigs from my branches broke off and fell through to the ground. The cloud still did not move.

When the wind finally stopped, I felt the warmth of the sun on some branches while others felt chilled by shadows. Later, when it rained, some branches drank too much water, while other branches stayed thirsty. I wished the cloud wasn’t there so I could see what was wrong. It felt like the branches above the cloud were no longer a part of me.

“What a silly idea,” I thought. “Of course they are part of me. What else can they be? When the wind blows, branches sway and when branches sway, there’s music. It’s as simple as that. How can a branch forget to be a branch?” I realized it wasn’t so easy being a tree after all.

I decided to send a fresh branch just to find out what was happening above that cloud. Several days later, when the new branch poked through the top of the cloud, it seemed to dry up and stop growing. I tried again and again and got the same result each time. For some strange reason, my new branch and all the ones I sent after it, could not get any rain or sunlight. I couldn’t imagine what a harmless cloud could do to make my branches behave this way, but I had to find out soon.

“Now what can I do?” I puzzled. “If the cloud is causing these weird things to happen to my branches… I’ll just have to grow a branch around the cloud! Suddenly, the solution seemed so obvious. It would take longer to grow a branch around the cloud and avoid the influence of the fluffy cloud, but it was truly my last hope.

I felt excitement coming from my new branch as it grew around the edge of the cloud. Soon, I would know what that fluffy little cloud had done to cause so much pain.

Just before dawn, my new branch grew high enough to see my branches poking through the top of the cloud. In the early morning light, my new branch could see that all the branches were sound asleep.

Some looked healthy, others looked very ill. The helper branches I grew were in the worst shape, barely poking through the top of the cloud. The branch closest to the edge of the could woke up first.

My new branch asked, “What happened up here?”

“What do you mean what happened? Who are you?” asked the waking branch.

“I’m a branch of Arbuna, just like you.”

“Abranchofarbuna may be your name, tree, but it isn’t mine! My name is Gimmiet!” snapped the waking branch.

“Tree? Why did you call me ‘tree’?”

With a puzzled look, Gimmiet said, “That’s what you are, a tree, just like all the other trees here. Are you nuts or something, Abranchofarbuna?”

Suddenly, I knew what the cloud had done. The way my branches poked out of the cloud made them look just like trees. And that’s what they thought they really were!

“Seeing you’re new here, I’d better fill you in on a few things,” whispered Gimmiet, “See the big trees over there? Watch out for them, when the wind blows, they knock branches off the other trees, so they'll have more room to grow even bigger. They haven’t gotten to me yet, but they’ll try because they want all the rain and sunlight for themselves.”

“They all want to be the biggest tree ever,” Gimmiet continued quietly, “The trees my size are so afraid of them, we fight with each other, too. We need to grow big to protect ourselves.”

“And stay away from those little trees,” Gimmiet warned. “They’re all nuts! They grew here one right after the other, saying they were branches of the same tree and that all the rest of us were too.”

Read the rest of this brief book:

The Question of God, a four-hour series on PBS, explores in accessible and dramatic style issues that preoccupy all thinking people today: What is happiness? How do we find meaning and purpose in our lives? How do we reconcile conflicting claims of love and sexuality? How do we cope with the problem of suffering and the inevitability of death? Based on a popular Harvard course taught by Dr. Armand Nicholi, author of The Question of God, the series illustrates the lives and insights of Sigmund Freud, a life-long critic of religious belief, and C.S. Lewis, a celebrated Oxford don, literary critic, and perhaps this century's most influential and popular proponent of faith based on reason.

"It may be that Freud and Lewis represent conflicting parts of ourselves," Dr. Nicholi notes. "Part of us yearns for a relationship with the source of all joy, hope and happiness, as described by Lewis, and yet, there is another part that raises its fist in defiance and says with Freud, 'I will not surrender.' Whatever part we choose to express will determine our purpose, our identity, and our whole philosophy of life."

Through dramatic storytelling and compelling visual re-creations, as well as interviews with biographers and historians, and lively discussion, Freud and Lewis are brought together in a great debate. "The series presents a unique dialogue between Freud, the atheist, and Lewis, the believer," says Catherine Tatge, director of The Question of God. "Through it we come to understand two very different ideas of human existence, and where each of us, as individuals, falls as believers and unbelievers."

The important moments and emotional turning points in the lives of Freud and Lewis — which gave rise to such starkly different ideas — fuel an intelligent and moving contemporary examination of the ultimate question of human existence: Does God really exist?


~ ~ ~


All over the world, people are asking the same questions: Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? What does it mean to be happy? Is there such a thing as evil? Does God really exist? This September, through the brilliant minds and personal struggles of two of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, PBS presents an emotional and intellectual journey into the meaning of life.

Program 1 — Synopsis

The Question of God Program 1 presents the early stories of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud, two men with very different ideas of human existence. In childhood, each embraced the religion of his family. But the early death of Lewis's mother, and the horrors he witnessed in the First World War tested his faith. In middle age, Lewis found his once-passionate atheism troubling, and began searching for faith again. Freud, studying medicine in the age of Darwin, found he had no use for a creator. As he developed his theory of psychoanalysis, he came to see belief in God as just another human fantasy.

To grapple with the questions raised by the lives and ideas of Freud and Lewis, Dr. Armand Nicholi leads a panel of seven thoughtful men and women in a wide-ranging discussion of some of the fundamental questions. What influences us to embrace or reject religious belief? Is the scientific method, as Freud wrote, the only path to the truth? Does the human longing for God, as Lewis wrote, actually prove that God exists? Do miracles actually happen?

Program 2 — Synopsis

As Freud and Lewis entered middle age, their divergent beliefs about the existence of God were fixed. But tragedy would test each man's convictions. For Freud, it was the terror of the Third Reich and the death of a beloved daughter. For Lewis, in his fifties, the brief happiness of new romance was turned to ashes with the untimely death of his wife, igniting the greatest spiritual crisis of his life. Yet in the end, each man confronted his own death with his beliefs intact.

Dr. Armand Nicholi and his panel continue their debate, exploring the implications of choosing a spiritual or secular worldview for the primary questions of life — of love, morality, suffering and death: From where do we get our concept of right and wrong — from the Creator or from human experience? How do we square the existence of an omnipotent, all-loving God with all of the evidence of evil and suffering in the world? How do these starkly different worldviews help us resolve the riddle of death?

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