A sign in my neighborhood reads, “Hope Anchors the Soul.” The anchor has been a symbol of hope for centuries, but I didn’t really understand why. Hope is about something we don’t have yet – something desirable in the future – something possible, but as yet ungraspable, toward which we are striving. But an anchor is just the opposite: deep below us, it is weighty and solid. It restricts the free movement of a ship. So how can hope be like an anchor?
To find out, I call my brother Bill, a ship’s captain, to get his take. He corrects me: “An anchor doesn’t restrict my movement at all,” he says. “It travels on board the ship until I decide it should be dropped. When the anchor is down, it keeps me solid in one place. The anchor keeps the wind, sea, and current from moving me where I don’t want to go. Like a sail,” he says, “it’s a tool I use to get where I want to go.” He adds that being at anchor is a time of needed rest from the constant vigilance of navigating.
Relating that to his spiritual life, he explained that finances or sickness can be like a storm blowing him off course into fear or despair. Without the anchor of hope, disappointments and frustrations are apt to overcome him as the forces of nature can overcome a ship. Hope in God’s promises keeps his soul safely “at rest,” even when the wind howls and the waves of life crash around him.
The idea of an anchor providing rest got my attention. Because hope that God will ultimately draw me to himself (if I stay open to it) is a needed rest from thinking I have to make everything happen – that it’s me and me alone who achieves my goals. Thanks to Captain Bill, my new motto when I’m feeling overwhelmed is, “Drop anchor!” Which means that I can live the virtue of hope, detoxing from self-reliance and “resting” my soul in the unchanging God who made the sea and everything in it.
This landlubber wishes you clear skies and smooth sailing!