The Flying Saint

Last Thursday was spent on the docks. The beginning of October marks the time of year when sailboats in our climes move to the “hard.” We are relatively new to our Marina, and so I had my first experience of seeing about 50 boats move from floating to flying to resting in their “cradle.” The boat club brings in a crane and all day long boats are advanced along the pier, then hugged with straps before being lifted across the sky and nestled into a metal stand designed to handle the large keel that keeps sailboats afloat and stable while the wind propels them forward.

A friend asked me the other day if I feel a little sad on a day such as this. I do feel a little sad, knowing that another season of sailing has come and gone. Yet the day also comes with both nervousness and the relief that comes with seeing Santa Maria safely ensconced in her resting place for another winter.

All of us have these odd moments where we simultaneously experience a mix of emotions. It can make making sense of our experiences complicated. Of course, complication can be a good thing when we are looking at life a little too simplistically! It is easy, too easy to paint life in black and white, whereas our emotions remind us that the circumstances that have led to them tend to be outside of our control. Life is sometimes grey, often a kaleidoscope of colours, but rarely black and white! Emotions, then, are often complicated and uncertain. Add to that the fact that our emotions are usually shaped by memories that are molded by the singularity of our experience, and it is soon clear that we need to accept the complexity and intensity of these feelings. It is not unusual to be happy and sad over the same things; to be afraid and excited together; to feel love and repulsion at the same time. Emotions are complicated and complicating, but a gift of God all the same.

There are so many places in life where we live with these mixed emotions, and as I look back on some of the bigger ones in my life – such as major life changes etc. – I realize that this is a complexity that accompanies us to and into death, experienced paradoxically as both a poison and a balm. We hold our breath in the face of death, just as I did as I saw my boat lifted up out of the water and drifting some 40 feet above the ground across the parking lot before landing safely into the boat storage unit at which point I let my breath out again, and said a prayer of thanks.

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2 thoughts on “The Flying Saint

  1. shoreacres says:

    I once witnessed a sailboat being dropped. It had come to the yard for a bottom job, and somehow the stands hadn’t been secured properly. I don’t remember now exactly what happened — it’s been at least twenty years. But I remember the impulse of so many watchers to laugh, even though we knew we “shouldn’t” — that it was no laughing matter — but there it was: amusement, horror, befuddlement, disbelief, all mixed up together. The fact that the boat was a racer that belonged to the commodore of a local yacht club didn’t help.

    In that instance, no real damage was done, and no one lost a job over it. But it certainly was imprinted on the memory of everyone who saw it, and every time I’ve had a boat pulled, I remember what ‘can’ happen. It makes the mix of emotions even more complicated, and the sense of relief at the end of the process even sharper.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Yikes, that is frightening! I’m glad I read this after Santa Maria made her way into her bed for a long winter’s night! We had our mast come down once (long story) and so I am always mindful that things can go wrong, which is not a bad way to approach sailing, and other activities as well!

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