by Rev. Terry Tripp, CFDM Co-Director
Did you know that I love sculling? Which means I row a single person shell. I row year-round on Puget Sound in the Bay on which I live. Every movement of the body makes a difference in how the shell moves through the water and how one stays afloat.
I sit in a seat that slides up and down the small cockpit of the shell. My feet are strapped to foot holders and I have long oars that are locked into riggers which extend about two feet out from either side. To keep from flipping the shell, I must concentrate on every movement. My body must be carefully positioned to balance the boat—always square, aligned with center.
The stroke begins with legs flat. The handle of my oars are pulled into my sides with the ends of the blades just off the water. Hands push forward, one leading the other as the ends I hold overlap, keeping them level. My back follows outstretched arms, seat glides up the slide. Just before I reach the end of the slide, I turn the oars so the blades can catch the water. Timing is critical. In they go. I push, legs first, then pull with my back and, finally, arms and hands One stroke completed.
Presence. Presence to my body, always.
This presence reminds me of God’s invitation to be present to God in all moments. It is neither easy nor comfortable. It requires the willingness to embrace what is in the moment. What is may be painful or joyful. But it is always vulnerable. It is like the movement of rowing well; always aware that one might slip and catch the water in the opposite direction and flip the boat. Yet, staying with the intention is to say, “I am here, I want to hear you, God, and I want to experience you–one movement, one moment at a time.”
Rowing has been a metaphor for my life in God. Sometimes it goes great; other times it is stormy and hard. All the times it teaches me to move in rhythm and hope. Can I become aware of my experience of life in sequence, and abandoned to a love I can’t control, yet move in rhythm to its beat?
I have no resolutions (!) for this new year. I have hope, though, that I will be present to each moment; that I will be willing to observe myself in action and change course if need be; that I will reflect on life as the playfield of God’s action in the world; that I am a part of it. And I will trust God to do all this in me.
Paul said something like this about “hope” in his letter to the Roman faith community while he was in prison: (my translation)
“Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Christ, who gives us grace – so then we can hope in sharing life with God. Not just that but also, we know that our suffering produces in us endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
We recognize this hope by the love that lives in us by God’s Spirit.”
So, no resolutions, just hope that God will produce in me, through life, a presence to God’s action and movement within.
Just as I am physically present to my rowing, I hope to be present spiritually to my soul, recognizing this movement by the growth of love. May love grow in you this new year of 2020.