With a flutter of nerves, I slide onto the hard deck of our small sailboat. It has been awhile. My husband holds the boat steady. The chaotic noise of flapping sail, slapping waves and snapping lines, fills the air. The small boat like a wild bird held fluttering in my hands, ready to take wing. My heart feels the same, anticipating the feel of being carried by the wind.
Will I remember? Remember how to read the wind? Remember how to connect with the unseen power that is there? The water knows its presence, running and dancing before it. The gulls overhead soar gracefully on its waves and eddies. Can I?
Can I connect with the unseen power present all around me?
I gather in the lines, take a firm grip on the tiller, glance at the edge of my sail, and give my mate a nod. He gives my boat a push away. Pointing directly into the wind, all is flapping noise and chaos. I am barely moving. With a nudge of the tiller, my bow turns ever so slightly to catch the wind, not unlike lifting my hands to heaven in prayer, opening to fill with the power and presence of the Almighty. My sail grows taunt as it fills with energy! Off I go!
My little boat surges forward. Picking up speed, she races off before the wind. I close my eyes and feel the strengthening breeze, losing myself if the miracle of being alive! Suddenly the boat shutters and stalls, and noise fills the air as my sail flaps wildly with confusion. I have forgotten to steer! My course!
Keep your eyes on the course! I am reminded that I have a part in this experience. This little boat needs me to keep her course. This sturdy mast, this single sail are lifeless without direction. As am I.
Something in me stirs as I skim across the bay.
Out here are deeper lessons on this bright and windy day.
My attentiveness is crucial as I watch my sail and steer.
I bring my course close to it and stretch my soul to hear.
This wind will give me insight as to how my course should go
As I fix my eyes for signs and watch the way it flows.
I am learning to sense changes across the waterscape.
To feel the brush across my skin, I listen close and wait.
I watch the trees along the shore and observe the dance of gulls.
Subtle changes I must take between the gusts and lulls.
Life is always changing like the wind upon the sea.
Alert and faithful watching must be that vital key.
Wind is like the Spirit, God’s power near to us,
to take us to new places if we only learn to trust.
Racing across the water, I see my course must veer.
Rocks are drawing closer; danger coming near.
I recall how God has warned me, His Spirit always close,
if I will just draw near Him, much like this little boat.
She rides upon the breezes, bounds across the waves.
I steer to catch the energy and watch how she behaves.
Just like the wind of God that stirs deep in my soul,
I’ll find my course by steering close, with faith that’s strong and bold.
As I race across the water, I smile at the thought,
“God has met me on this venture, on my nervous sailing jaunt.
Who knows where He will speak to me? One can never tell.
It might be on a windy day when I dare to take a sail.”
I feel a shiver, my clothes soaked, my knees getting stiff. All the realities and discomforts of being human interrupt my reverie. I am far out in the channel, weary from my efforts to catch the wind and catch the lessons stirring within. I look to shore and see my family playing on the beach, a curl of smoke rising from the campfire. It’s time to go back.
I turn my little boat towards shore, loosening my grip on her lines, letting the sail billow out before the wind. A different sound dawns on me. The sound of quiet. Sailing down wind, I breathe deeply and whisper a prayer of thanks as I am carried home.
Cindy Peterson is a native of the Pacific Northwest. Mother of four, Grandmother, wife and lover of God. Captivated by the redemptive work of God through story in the small group setting. Outdoors woman, athlete, gardener, photographer. She loves to run in the woods with her dogs. You can read more of Cindy’s writing here.