A good friend of mine likes to talk about sailing. In fact, it is his chief metaphor for the spiritual journey. He sees himself sailing over a wide, wide river, strong currents buffeting the keel, substantial winds demanding respect, and quiet eddys of energy asking to be paid attention. There is a destination in mind, but it’s not fixed in stone, sailing not being about going in a straight line. We talked yesterday of losing sight of the shore, or at least of the part of the shore we’re most interested. We talked of sailing near-directly into the wind and the slow progress one makes that way. He argued that tacking more widely may not seem like steady progress toward the goal; in fact, he said, it may often feel as if you’re moving away from it. But, he went on, there is always something of the destination in the tacking, and you sail faster to boot, which is, of course, more fun.
The metaphor is for life, of course, for the pursuit of anything; a goal, a career, a relationship, or a life with God. My life is changing in deep seismic shifts, or at least that’s what I keep telling my wife and friends. And I can’t tell if I’m tacking or just sitting in a calm zone, but my pursuit of whatever it is I’m in pursuit of is no longer headlong. There is a ton of writing to do, but even as I type, I often wonder just what it is I’m after in all these words.
My friend–his name is Jeffrey (I have several friends who share my name) — suggested I pay attention to the puffs of wind that come. I know what he means, and so I’m listening, watching the water and the light, trying to guage the wind.
Now if Jesus would just come alongside, walking on the water…