Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Into the Deep

"They that go down to the sea in ships;
That do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." 
~Psalm 107~

Lately, I feel pulled to deeper waters. 

The sudden rushing in of the tide caught me wholly unaware in the midst of my everyday life. The whitecaps with their foamed hands gestured for me to follow their rip-current further out to sea. "There's something more," they whispered. "Come out where it's deep."

I've lived most of my life wading in knee-deep water.

It's safe there. In the event of impending danger, you can easily splash your chicken-shit way to shore. I've never wanted to venture out so far that I can't look down and see my submerged feet shallowly staring back at me. 

Danger is always lurking in the deep. 

And yet, I hear a seafaring voice beckoning me to embark on a maiden voyage. It's a quest to leave shallow waters behind. A quest to embrace the unknown. To let the turbulence of the salty waves show me exactly what this vessel is made of.

Every maiden voyage begins with the ceremonial launching of the ship. 

We break a bottle of bubbly against the bow marking the birth and naming of a new vessel. It's a holy christening. A baptism of sorts. It's a tradition soaked in superstition that goes back thousands of years. 

The Ancient Greeks wreathed their heads with olive branches, drank wine to honor gods and goddesses like Atalanta, the virgin goddess of adventure, and poured water on the new vessel as a sign of blessing. In 18th and 19th century France, a priest would bless the newly named ship with holy water. England's Princess Alexandra commissioned an Anglican choir to sing Psalm 107 at the launching of her namesake battleship: "They that go down to the sea in ships; That do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." 

Sometimes first launch is disaster. 

The anchors fail to hold the ship's forward progress and it capsizes and sinks in deep waters. Onlookers have even been knocked into the water and drowned by the sheer force of a ship's wake. 

I'm aware of the dangers. I'm aware of the risks. 

But I know the care and precision the master shipwright put into shaping this vessel. I have a hope that is a sure and steadfast anchor for my soul. Like theologian William G.T. Shedd so aptly stated, "A ship in a port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for."

This ship was built for adventure. This ship was built for the deep.

My oldest sister (who always takes exceedingly good care of me) used her big sister intuition (one of her super powers) to sense that I was getting ready to embark on a journey. She gave me a timely book to read called When the Heart Waits by one of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd (which I highly recommend if you, too, are hearing that seafaring voice). 

Kidd recounts advice a friend gave her when she found herself navigating uncharted waters: "If you think God only leads you beside still waters, think again. God will also lead you by turbulent waters. If you have the courage to enter, you'll think you're drowning. But actually, you're being churned into something new."

And so, I find myself setting adrift aboard a virgin vessel christened with new name and ancient blessing to do business in great waters. I want to see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. I'm fully trusting Him with the weight of my hull--and if you look closely, you can see H.M.S. Atalanta painted in red. 

I'm sliding down this slipway stern-first, starboard bow facing God. 

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