For the Weal of the World

Thursday saw Santa Maria make her way from the hard to the lovely and oh so wet Hamilton Harbour on Lake Ontario. COVID-19 complications meant that this was not a possibility last year, so it was especially sweet to see her land in the water.

For those who are not familiar with sailing in my part of the world, sailboats have to come out of the water because the lakes freeze, and fixed keel boats have keels thousands of pounds heavy, so a lift or a crane is used. Our marina rents a crane. It is quite the site to see things that float flying across the sky.

When she landed, I was near at hand, and jumped into the boat, started the engine as the pier crew moved my boat down the dock. Within some seconds she was ready to go, and the crew tossed the lead lines into the boat and I was off. It was a feeling… slipping across the water. Boats are mesmerizing. You cannot turn on a dime. There are no brakes. And the feeling of floating is unlike any other. Something stirred.

I didn’t grow up on the water. My mother was afraid of it, but my dad had been in the navy and while he rarely spoke of his experiences in the second world war, he sometimes talked with some enthusiasm about learning to sail as a part of their training. I suspect that some bits of my joy on the water are related to this. My paternal grandmother was from the west coast of Norway, and so it just might be that other bits of my joy come from blood. I’m not altogether sure but being on the water brings me a joy that I can’t quite describe.

I suspect most people have some place, or activity, or perhaps a time that finds them outside of themselves, drifting into the future, the past, the stories in our bones. These experiences are life giving and avoided at our peril. Alas, we too often fail to attend to these in our busyness. I truly feel that these experiences are divine gifts that feed our souls, our minds, and our bodies. Too often we imagine that only “holy” activities ground and grow our spirit. But all that is truly whole is holy, shaped by the Creator for the good of our humanity, and for the weal of the world.

Of course, these may well change and shift with time, but then again, so do we. I should note too that sailing is not the only activity that takes me to another place. Sometime art will do this, or music, or running. The Holy One has given us so many ways to stay alive. Receive these gifts for what they are: given for you.

8 thoughts on “For the Weal of the World

  1. Rebekah says:

    “The Holy One has given us so many ways to stay alive.” Including lines like this!

  2. maarten.wilbers@bluewin.ch says:

    Thank you Allen! I recognize the image, and especially the feeling. One highlight for me is to navigate out of a complex harbour without engine support, or, even more, after using the engine, the soothing sound of the bow finding its way through the water once the engine has been cut and the sails hoisted. Now just a tiny motorboat (from Norway), should return to the freezing Lac Léman in about a week! Enjoy company, but navigating ‘solo’ truly special. Apologies that I cannot put this in words the way you do … Hope all well on your side! Maarten

    • agjorgenson says:

      Yes, the only feeling that compares to that silent movement in my experience was that of riding two times in a glider. Best wishes as you launch your motorboat! Just being on the water is gift… we are all well here with on shot in the arm and the other booked in about a month. I hope you and yours are well, as well. Pax…

  3. shoreacres says:

    For me, offshore sailing always has been the height of pleasure, especially when it’s possible to settle into a good reach. The Morgan I sailed for several years liked about a 20 degree heel, and once she was happy, it seemed as though she could go forever.

    It’s interesting how music and sailing complement one another. Sailing from Hawaii to Alaska, I listened to Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” over and over — now, when I hear the song, I can feel the motion of the boat.

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for sharing Orinoco Flow… I haven’t heard it for years and so now I hear it differently! In the bay where I often sail there is a lot of activity with races etc., so it is a bit hectic. But every now and then I get out to Lake Ontario proper where it possible to find that sweet spot that makes Santa Maria and me both happy.

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