A week ago Wednesday, I had the good fortune of being invited by a congregant to spend a good part of the day with her on her boat exploring the ocean north of and around Cape Ann. I realize that I have lived in Boston for more years than I had lived in Duluth, MN (my childhood home), but despite that reality, the ocean remains an unnerving and rather strange realm to me. I will always be a lake, not an ocean, kind of person. “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” feels just right to me. Oceans make me nervous.
But I love this congregant (as I do you all) and love spending time with her and so I was very glad to have the opportunity to spend the day with her doing what she loves most.
I arrived mid-morning and made my way down the dock. It was low tide so the incline to where the boat was tied up was steep. I stepped onto the floating dock and felt the first swell and then the sink of the motion of the ocean and tried to steady myself.
Then it was time to step off the dock and into the boat. Doing so was not easy.
I felt awkward and unsteady as I stepped off the dock and onto the deck of the boat. Once on board, it took me a moment to recover my balance. As I moved, I marveled at how completely incompetent at ambulation upon the water I was. I quickly realized standing up straight with hands full of bags was not going to work. So I dropped a bag, grabbed a hand hold, lowered my center of gravity and groped my way into the safety of the cockpit. It was not a pretty sight, but I made it.
Our scripture passages for this, our Gathering Sunday are about people who are also doing the good and hard work of getting in the boat (Genesis 6: 11- 22, Matthew 8: 18-27). The passages tell of people leaving what they have known and stepping out into what at best is rather unsettling and at worst is down-right terrifying.
These passages are fitting as we too step out into another church year this Sunday. We too are being called to get in the boat so to speak, to leave our sure and steady places and to step off into something new. For growth and transformation happens, I believe, when we find ourselves on the edge of our competence. It is not easy. We may feel unsteady and slightly nervous but it is also where transformation lies (and sightings of bewildering sea monsters – honest! Ask me about the huge reptilian creature we sited way out to sea on the shoals off Plum Island).
So let’s go! I cannot wait to see you all this Sunday at 10:00 as we set off beginning church again in waters of our time.