Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turn ... and Come Round Right

Not long ago a commercial airliner, whose pilot was new to New York, landed at JFK Airport. He steered the jet onto a taxiway and stopped. Then slowly he began turning. First he nosed the aircraft to the right. Then to the left. Then he turned the plane completely around.

Finally, over the public-address system, a confused voice asked, "Does anyone know where Gate 25 is?" He thought that by turning he'd see where to go and end up where he ought to be.

Deciding to turn, or change direction, is a wonderful metaphor. It is something we often have to do if we are to live fully and live well. For each of us knows what it is to head the wrong direction in life; and we also know how relieved we feel to turn around again.

Do you remember the old Shaker hymn, written by Joseph Brackett, Jr. over 150 years ago?
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.
It's amazing how many times I turn in a day. I turn up to things I want to attend and turn down others. I turn in at the end of the day and turn over all night long. And when things are not right, I can always turn them around.

Actually, turning is one of the most hopeful words I know.

When I'm not right, I can turn in a new direction. By turning, I do something about the course I've taken. I may not be able to change what I've already done; and I may not be able to fully escape those unpleasant consequences of past choices. But I need not continue in the same, destructive path. I can turn. I can find my way again.

Turning around is allowed in this life. In fact, it's necessary. Especially after mistakes and failures. And that's like hope for me. Like the song says, "'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be." But when we don't find ourselves where we ought to be, "by turning, turning we come round right."

-- Steve Goodier