In Her Heart

Yesterday we went down to LaSalle Bay to ready Santa Maria for the water. She has been on the hard for a long time. Our marina needed a new sea wall and construction had been slowed by Covid last summer. The long and short of it was that boats did not make it into the water. We missed being on the boat but spent some of the summer fixing this and that, including replacing a through that was leaking and a few other tasks. We both found a modicum of delight in getting down to the water even if not on it.

A similar feeling accrued yesterday. The exterior of the boat did not need a lot of work since we had cleaned and waxed it last fall. But the inside had two winters worth of spider waste and such. My dear wife worked on that while I scrubbed the outside. It was either outside with a howling wind and cold water or inside bending about corners in search of spiders and their offerings.

We also put on the outboard motor, fit on the tiller, connected the electrical etc., making sure everything was ready for launch day, May 13. It was a satisfying day of work, with a 3.5 hours passing by like the snap of fingers. When we got home, however, we received an email announcing that lift-in was delayed until the current stay at home order is lifted. I have to admit that I am not overly surprised, since the city of Burlington has not yet opened any marinas.

We don’t generally sail in May. We try to get our mast up, and sails on but the month of May really is quite cool for sailing, although some do with parkas and mitts and such. It really is surprising how cold the water is and the wind very generously shares it with you when you are out and about on a boat.

My hope is that we will be in the water by the end of May, or perhaps early June. We bought a new main sail and genoa last summer and are itching to feel how Santa Maria performs with sails that are more efficient. But wait we will and wait we must. This has been a year and more of waiting and watching. In some ways, it has been a kind of training in prayer, which doesn’t begin on the knees so much as in the eyes and ears and heart attuned to the world around us – attentive to the moment.

Santa Maria’s moment is not yet, but it will come, of that I am certain. In the meantime she will do what she does so well, wait and ponder in her heart, as will we.

The Greatest of These

Friends, a poem I wrote for chapel at Luther this last week…

Faith, and hope, and love abide but which of
these charisms do you prize, deep
in this time of COVID, this time of
hoping for a cure for social paralysis, this time of
putting our faith in the science, even while
others despair of besting this tiniest of beasts?

All the while that spiky protein spins – it
mutates, and revolves, and rolls with the punches.
Don’t you just hate it? Or, perhaps you prefer to
hate something, or someone seen – like maybe
an incompetent politician, or your next door neighbour, or say
a racialized person, or perhaps someone
hating racialized people…

It seems hatred seeks something or someone
concrete to sink its teeth into,
aching to slake its thirst. And we know
so well the power of hate;
its grip in our belly,
its throttle at our throats
its sweet-bitter taste on our tongues as we
take down this one,
rake that one over the coals.

But love, love brooks no business with
hate – never sated by seeing
my sworn enemy put in her place,
but grace-fully love questions the place of
putting in place in our economy;
our oiko-nomos; our oikos; our house.
Love is a house-holder, setting the table instead
of settling the score – always finding a spot in the
ever-widening circle that is finally eternity, where
hatred is seen for what it is: abject fear – fear
cast out by love, by
… embracing those I fear, by
… embracing those afraid of me, by
… embracing the fears inside of me.

The disciples were locked in by fear but
Love walked through the door. Beloved
Thomas feared the truth but love exposed
its wound and wound its way around Thomas –
around me, until I found and now still find
me and you and those I hate in the
very same circle, in the same herd, shepherded
there by Love.

Faith, and hope, and love abide, these three beside
one another but the greatest of these is love and
the greatest of these is…
it really is.

Seeing and Seeing To In 2021

Finally, it comes to end, this 2020 called by many – though not all – an annus horribilis.  For many of us, of course, it has been a strange year with much disappointment and anxiety: lost opportunities, the lack of familiar social and religious comforts, alongside of the pounding presence of never really feeling confident in making plans. 

But I also know of people who have found their footing in this dystopian time – discovering new possibilities in the space opened up and discovering physical and spiritual practices that would have been untapped had this been an annus ordinarius.  I suspect that most of us have had a mixed experience but we are tipped in the direction of wanting to shake off this year because its character of unpredictability is so unsettling.  And we don’t like being unsettled – be it by unemployment, or uncertainty, or illness.  And that is utterly understandable.  But this year also afforded us the opportunity to learn from our experiences. The data of our year – whether it be tragedy, or triumph, or a mix – provides an occasion for taking stock of our place in the universe.  Of course, this is always true but something about this apocalyptic year has sharpened our capacity to look at our lives more acutely.

That feeling of being unsettled, of course, is always just behind the curtain upon which we project our cinematic sense of self.  Down deep, we know that our carefully crafted narratives are subject to another illness, or a shift in relationships, or a fractured spirituality.  But right now, the curtain has drawn open and the film of our life is projected onto a spherical ball with projectile-like spikes.  And the image that results is hard to discern, and so we hunker down, or we shake our fist, or we make an anxious plan.

These responses are neither right nor wrong.  How we respond is who we are, and we are accepted as such by Love.  But Love also invites us to consider if this is how we want to be.  Love invites us to look at whom we have become. It calls us to behold the gift we are and our invitation to growth – both of these now present in our being human.  Our being gift, of course, is radically recast in these COVID-19 days as we realize anew the profundity of presence.  And growth, too, is being drastically reframed for us in these strange days as we ponder that sometimes growing means letting go and being less, doing less, being content with less.  Powerful forces try to negate this message. Yet that little sphere with its spikes reminds us that less can sometimes do more than principalities and powers and doing with less can be more than we can ever imagine.  We have seen strange things in 2020.

Blessings to you, dear readers, as you see, and see to, yourselves into 2021.