Out of the Pulpit: Everyone is meant to be an arrow

By Rev. Martin L. Dunne III | Contributing Columnist

I received much positive feedback last year from my column on how the TV show “Sesame Street” influenced me. This month, I write of another, albeit arguably less well-known influence from the show. 

“Sesame Street” presented hundreds, if not thousands, of uniquely composed songs over half a century. For me, “Follow the Arrows” was the most profound.

“Follow the arrows, just follow, don’t say no! Follow the arrows, they’ll show you where to go!”

It may sound silly, but although I hadn’t seen it since the 1980s, I remember this relatively obscure song best. I was delighted to see how arrows not only led our happy presenter through his daily routine but also how they led him to the delightfully random excitement of a rodeo and an octopus.

Why this song more than the hundreds of other enjoyable tunes I heard while growing up?  

Perhaps because of my related conviction that absolutely everything and everyone is meant to be an arrow. It is the purpose of everything and everyone. It is our purpose.

In the most general way, I believe everything is meant to be an arrow pointing to God. All my life experiences have convinced me of that much, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In a particular way, everything is meant to show us how to “arrive” at God. I see this as the masterpiece of creation. Because of the variety of blessings which surround us, there are infinite possible scenarios, with each combination of scenarios changing with each and every decision made by each and every individual.

Sometimes blessings are misinterpreted, and thus misused. That is not the fault of the “arrow,” but the one who misrepresented or misread it. Good conscience is meant to be our prism to ensure that we do not misread the arrows.

This is why even when we initially misread the arrows, they can still ultimately be interpreted the best way.

Although no one can dare fully explain tragedies, even the unfair losses of life are meant to be arrows. It’s critically important that we face the tragedies, losses or frustrations with eyes wide open to answer the question: “Where do I go now?” When people strive to see how they can best move forward, sometimes the greatest blessings result from tragedies.

For example, I am most grateful for the particular losses which fueled my resolve to be my very best going forward in spite of those painful losses.  

I feel one person who had a better, more comprehensive awareness of the “arrows” surrounding us is St. Augustine of Hippo. In his lifetime he went literally from one extreme to the other. 

He originally did not see blessings as pointing to God but egocentrically towards himself. He would later liken that attitude to drinking gallons of ocean water in a destructively counterproductive attempt to quench thirst. 

Once Augustine properly viewed everything as arrows pointing to God, he experienced a most-profound conversion which made him one of the holiest people who ever lived – in turn becoming a most profound arrow to God for others to follow.

Augustine is studied worldwide because his wisdom remains so profound. 

His experiences led him to summarize arrows around us so beautifully: “All things proclaim [God], all things speak.  Their beauty is the voice by which they announce God, by which they sing, ‘It is you who made me beautiful, not me myself but you.’”

By using our blessings as the arrows which they are meant to be, we can always rest in the knowledge that we are using our blessings in the very best way.

The Rev. Martin L. Dunne III is a Pompano Beach native and author of several children’s books along with the self-help book “What Could a Priest Know About Marriage?” He is an ordained minister for Holy Redeemer in Palm City. Prior to seminary, he spent a decade working in the “real world” and was active in several business and volunteer endeavors. Visit fathermartinbooks.com for more information on Rev. Martin and his books.

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