This morning, while pondering “purpose,” images of sailing swirled about me. I remember being caught “in irons”— trapped in a “No Go Zone,” unable to bear away and begin sailing.

I thought, too, of the Sirens, enchanting mythological creatures beckoning sailors off course; ultimately, to their demise.

Is this not our life at times? We’ve all been there — stuck, lost, and in need of navigation. It’s easy these days to feel windstrewn; we seem to be buffeted at every turn. By reflecting on our purpose, we can relocate our North Star and course correct.

For years, this piece on life principles from Peter Caddy’s book, "In Perfect Timing," has been part of my morning meditation practice:

"Think big. The universe is big. Whatever you think, you will bring about. Always see the positive in everybody and everything — thus drawing it out. Affirm love, affirm light, affirm power.

Love whatever you do. Learn to love the place you are in, the people you are with and the work that you have to do.

Be at peace. Be the healer of all troubles. Be not troubled by troubles but be peaceful – peace heals.

Be fearless. Fear is tantamount to the denial of God, and no good comes from it. It is unnecessary and a hindrance to the workings of spirit. There is no need for fears of any kind — as they belong only to a realm of illusion and ignorance, and the incapacity to relax into the arms of God.

Have courage. Be true to your visions, be inspired and guided by God. Follow that guidance, even if you think it takes you to the brink. Go to the brink and look over – you might see the face of God.

Be happy. Be joyful in the service of God, in the service of humanity, in the service of life. Joy and a sense of humor are the hallmarks of the spirit and the freedom it gives.

Do your best and then trust God to do the rest."

His words have righted me time and time again.

Love and service have been my mission for as long as I can recall. Wayne Mueller’s book, "How Then, Shall We Live?" helped me distill it down. He asks these age-old questions:

"Who am I?

What do I love?

How shall I live knowing I will die?

What is my gift to the family of the earth?"

I sat with a middle-aged father in acute grief who was questioning everything after his young adult son committed suicide. He kept asking, "What is even the right question?" All I could do was listen, listen and listen some more, empathize and, eventually, out of my mouth popped, "Whatever the question, the answer is always the same: LOVE."

After reading "Tattoos on the Heart" by Gregory Boyle, I’ve been contemplating my “service” a bit differently. He writes:

"‘Mother Theresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just forgotten that we belong to each other.’ Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen.

. . . Kinship – not serving the other, but being one with the other . . . There is a world of difference in that."

There certainly is. These days, I attempt to journey right alongside folks versus trying to be of “service” doing to or for them.

"Jump. Serve. Worship. Connect." These are the four specific commitments that Arthur C. Brooks discovered will guide him through the remaining years of his life. In his recent article, "Your Work Peak Is Earlier Than You Think," he prefaces his explanation of them with: ". . . New York Times columnist David Brooks talks about the difference between 'resume virtues' and 'eulogy virtues.'"

". . . Resume virtues are professional and oriented toward earthly success. They require comparison with others. Eulogy virtues are ethical and spiritual, and require no comparison. Your eulogy virtues are what you would want people to talk about at your funeral. As in, He was kind and deeply spiritual, not, He made senior vice president at an astonishingly young age and had a lot of frequent-flyer miles.

You won’t be around to hear the eulogy, but the point Brooks makes is that we live the most fulfilling life — especially once we reach midlife — by pursuing the virtues that are most meaningful to us."

So, we pause, ponder, plan. Then what?

Natalie Goldberg, in conclusion at her writer’s workshop in New Mexico, urged us to:

"Continue at all cost.

Do not be tossed away.

Make positive effort for the good."

A renewed purpose accompanied by clarity and courage will steer us back on course. Time now to take action and set sail. The wind is at our backs. Onward!