In the last month, I have had the pleasure of sailing twice. The first time was in Mobile Bay as the sun was setting; a storm had just passed. I was excited when the Captain said, “Cissy, it’s your turn at the wheel.” I felt trusted, responsible, exhilarated, and eager to prove my seaworthiness. My listening skills became sharpened; my senses were on high alert. I continually scanned the horizon, synthesizing any information that seemed important to our adventure and my navigation.
After a few lessons and more than a few constant reminders, Captain Lee said … “Cissy, close your eyes and just feel the boat move.” At first, I was hesitant to close my eyes. The question ran through my mind: “for goodness sake, Lee, how will I see where I am going?” What I experienced was remarkable. As I closed my eyes and held the wheel, I felt the wind tug the sail; I knew to hold steady and let the wind move us forward. I did not over-correct. I trusted my instincts in a very different way. The captain’s statement has been on my mind ever since.
We are in the last weeks of the spring semester; the “homestretch.” Students are heading into final exams, papers, and projects. Our seniors are finishing their classes for the last time at Loyola, and my parting words to them are: it’s your turn at the wheel. At graduation, when you hear your name called and cross the stage, your senses will be on high alert. Your mentors, teachers, encouragers, friends and family will be cheering you on! You are ready, with the gift of education, and have the privilege and the power to sail your own ship.
Take a moment, during this time of high activity, close your eyes, breathe deeply and recognize all that these many years have taught you. Let the exhilaration of all you’ve learned and experienced wash over you. Hold steady. Keep forward progress. Trust your instinct.