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I just finished reading the book “A Pearl in the Storm.” It’s a memoir by Tori Murden McClure about how she challenged her internal war against helplessness by putting herself in the hands of the volatile Atlantic Ocean, by herself, in a rowboat. It was a physical, mental and emotional challenge larger than anything I feel capable of facing. She is an impressive person, to say the least. According to the book, her firsts include being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic and to ski overland to the South Pole. She has an AB from Smith College, a Master’s in Divinity from Harvard University, a JD from the University of Louisville School of Law, and an MFA in Writing from Spalding University. She has worked with the homeless, troubled youth, as a chaplain at Boston City Hospital and for Muhammad Ali at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tori is only two years older than me. I look at her journey and it is so different than mine. She has achieved more education, had far more unique experiences, been in the trenches with those most in need. Her childhood was more challenging than mine, and yet she overcame it with grace enough to examine her life deeply and write a book about it. I’ve never rowed anything more than a fishing boat on a calm lake,  never skied more than once or twice down a bunny hill, and didn’t earn multiple degrees in differing fields. In fact, it took me awhile to finish college. I was 30 when I finished my BA and 41 for my MA. Tori is a self-described introvert who avoids crowds. I need to be around people..it’s how I am energized.

What I love about her book is how she overcomes her battle with helplessness, not by conquering all, but by realizing a deep truth. She states “I am a human being. It is our brokenness, our helplessness, which makes us human. The only thing that makes our humanity bearable is love.” Ah…now I can relate and even relax. For while I’ve never conquered new territory, I know a lot of love. My two grown children, my husband,  our parents, friends, co-workers…they all care deeply as I do for them. This I can stand on firmly as a foundation to the rest of my life. And there’s still time for adventure. You won’t find me rowing across the ocean but I will stay challenged to stretch beyond my comfort zone and see new horizons.

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