Monday, July 03, 2006

Faith on the high seas

I've always loved the sea, and love being on a boat, a ship, or for that matter, any a floating barge. I've always loved to read about naval expeditions, history of naval battles, and the lives (though sometimes fictional—as portrayed in Patrick O'Brian's books) of the thousands of sailors who found both deliverance and despair in the oceans. Needless to say, I've not been literally caught tossing about a floating tub in the middle of a raging storm (thank God!).

"Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World. ... And the sea will grant each man new hope ... his sleep brings dreams of home."—Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón)

Our life, a journey to our 'true home'—a place of unimaginable wonder—is very much like a sea-bound journey. In most seafaring civilisations, it is understood that a sea-bound journey could be a mortally perilous journey: treacherous seas (with mortal distractions like the Sirens in Odysseus' voyage), frequent squalls, and inevitable changes of route. The risk of lives lost during a sea-bound voyage had become tolerable, even acceptable.

How is our life like a journey on the high seas? Storms, lots of storms. Two Sundays ago, the mass readings painted storms in our lives as a way of life; that all storms are within God's power to invoke and to quell: it is sometimes given so that in our complete faith, we can cry out to the Almighty Father. And these two weeks' readings remind us of faith: faith when the waves seem to overwhelm the little fishing boat, faith of the leper, faith of the Roman centurion, faith of the haemorrhage-ing woman, faith of Jairus, the faith of St Peter, and today, the faith of St Thomas.

Some things in life seem to be like taking different boats to a known destination. Some liken dating different people to getting on different boats; if you don't like where it's going after some time, the common saying goes, get off and get on a new boat. Some liken professional vocation to different boats too. But really, how can we be on a few different boats ("love-boat"—out of lack of a better name, "work-boat", and "spiritual-boat") if we only have one destination? Maybe the metaphor isn't very accurate here.

The Church is the one true ark that will carry us home. Of that I am sure. So were any of the other boats imaginary? I was mulling over this (as some of you know, it is my primary timesink these days, thinking about Vocation in life), and one of the priests I talked to, kept saying that it is a great opportunity to meet many people of all walks and spread the faith. Hmm.. kinda far from the locus of the problem, don't you think? It took St Teresa de Avila to remind me that the Logos is revealed to many people through their professional vocation; but when we already believe, thinking (and worrying) about our professional vocation seemed unnecessary, or unimportant at best, in comparison with the need to find our way home and on the way, bring other souls along. So, Father was right...

About professional vocation, I still think it is important, albeit of secondary importance. There are days where I feel very much like an impostor—drifting about at work, doing what I've always done, yet not able to contribute more. Through a friend, I was reminded that it is through our weakness God manifests His greatness. Who am I to say that, if a day has been good because I did something, it did not come from God? The days when I think I've "relied too much on God", what I'm really thinking is that, there are days when I could've relied less on Him! And so, whether a day has been 'good' or 'so-so', what good we do that day comes from nowhere else but God! Deo gratias!

It has been a long post: every morning, we take out our boat and start again on our journey home. Rephrasing Christopher Columbus, I wish that each leg of your journey grant you a new hope.

A modern proverb says, there is no atheist at the trenches. To that I will add, there are no atheists at sea either! (Seen the movie K19: The Widowmaker yet?) I'd like to end this very long rambling post with a little note to honor (and humor) the Holy Spirit. (It is not applicable to the age of submarines, but hey, don't we all get on a boat sometime in our life?)

On a boat in the middle of a bight; we row, we row, and we row.
Not another ship was in view, And no land in sight.
The sun scorched our paint, and scourged our souls.
When the Spirit of God blows, like the westerlies
it delivers us from the bight, towards our true patria.
The Spirit blows again, and rainclouds fall to quench our thirst.
All we have to do, is billow our sail, catch the sweet water,
and hold fast our rudder to the one true North.
Because we know, we get closer to home every time the Spirit blows.

1 comment:

Bravo said...

Hi Antonia,

Thanks for the sharing that night. I didn’t know that you were in that level of struggle. As I write to you, I too have partly a similar struggle as you have and other struggles lately, even thought I’m on MC. I wish I can share with you on it but I’m not sure how to share about it.

I just want to say to you (as others have shared with me) do what you like (I guess you have discovered something new that you like to do). Choose satisfaction over money… better to have a happy friend than to have a miserable rich friend hehehe…When choosing or changing jobs, be careful, Consult your design. Consult your Designer (avoid consulting greed).

This is an interesting metaphor you have here on the boats… just that actually we are the boat (a boat with heart, soul and mind in it) and we journey in this sea of life. We come in different shape and size (maybe functions) and different luggage and gifts we carry in us. And the winds of God carry us through life… some choose not to follow. If I’m not wrong I met you at a harbor call CHOICE Harbor when I dock there to rest and recharge ;)

Each boat will have their own function to play in the sea. Some fishing boat, some shipping, some police boat, some repair boat and etc… I’m not sure about ‘love boat’ (all boats have love) or ‘work boat’ (all boats can work) or ‘spiritual boat’ (they have a sprite too).

Then there are some boats that decided to travel together side by side… be it strong winds, rain or storm they ride through it together… I believe they have lots of commitment and I guess God reward them with lots of good journey too.

I guess I’ll stop writing about the boat … other wise I’ll come out with the animation movie for “Boats”.

Happy that a friend has reminded you that it is through our weakness God manifests His greatness. Which is what I too had encounter in my vulnerabilities. I guess Jesus love us too much to leave us alone. Deo gratias!

Mmm just to encourage you… maybe just share from John 21 with you what happen to the disciples when Jesus died and they lost their vision and hope… And so Simon Peter and some of the disciples to go back and fish (when God had made them fisher of man…and they go fishing fish… can’t blame them as they are comfortable with their old job). Jesus appears to them and serve makan to them and makan with them and call Peter back to love and serve Him…

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you.” Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

I guess it is sort of giving a vision and hope that Peter had lost. I pray that God will do that to you and I too.

Hear that you going for a retreat. Is it related to your vocation search? All the best on it.