Six months ago, my wife and I retired, sold our home in Illinois, and moved into my elderly father’s house in Washington to help with his care. It’s a good arrangement and dad’s needs are few. He’s lived alone since the time of mom’s passing the spring of 2003.
Of course, life here has its frustrations. Before moving in, I spoke with my wife and father, to express my concerns about being “ping-ponged” between the 2 people I love. In meeting both their needs, it is possible for my interests to be overlooked with little time left for me. By way of example, playing the guitar, which is something I’ve done and loved since grade school, often falls by the wayside.
So last fall I noticed that when stressed, I often stop and gaze at the sailboats tacking about on the bay below. There is something about them that soothes my spirit as they hoist sails and go with the wind.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 ESV)
And yet it occurs to me that a significant part of sailing, is learning to tie, untie and otherwise manage knots. Knots secure the sails against the wind for without them, a sail is just a sheet flapping in the wind. Knots secure the anchor to the boat for safe moorage or tie the boat to the slip for boarding. Knots can be used to winch a boat into the berth, or around a piling. They secure bumpers to the hull to insulate between the dock and boat.
Like sailing, life has its knots; marriage is a knotting of sorts, as are other relationships. Life also has its snares, in which we may become tangled and labor to untie and be free. Even within a man, feelings and emotions can become a snarl, something to be sorted through until their cause is identified and can be addressed with understanding and love.
Perhaps in gazing upon sailboats, all I’m really trying to do is figure out how manage life’s knots so I can resume sailing with the Spirit.