Be As One is now in print!
Beginning this month, I will be writing a monthly column for the Catholic Free Press, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts (previously I had written columns in the Catholic Free Press for the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester). The column is called “Be as One,” after this blog.
My first column appeared today in the paper:
Regular readers of this blog have seen this theme before; it is central to this blog. Here is the actual column:
Important lessons a kayak taught me
How could satisfying a husband’s request for a kayak end up teaching me one of the most important lessons of my life?
Back in 2007, my husband Rich suggested we get a kayak. In exploring our central Massachusetts town, we discovered that it and surrounding towns were peppered with lakes, ponds and streams. We both loved the water so it made sense. Having done test runs in both canoes and kayaks, I knew the minute I sat in the kayak that it was the right fit. It put me closest to the water where I could run my hand through it and dip my toes.
At first I resisted the idea of purchasing one because money was tight but Rich wore me down. He drove four hours to New Hampshire with our daughter to get the best price and returned with a beautiful, slightly used green tandem kayak. The boat landing was right down the street and so we set sail. Right away I knew this new hobby was going to have a positive effect on our lives.
Rich and I have enjoyed a happy, lifelong relationship. We dated in high school and married just out of college. We share the same values about life, particularly when it comes to our faith, but when it came doing things together, we came up short. The kayak solved that problem. Right away we noticed the harmony between us whenever we went out in the boat. Rather than compete with each other (which we always did), we worked in partnership. Leisurely trips included appreciating the natural landscape on the quieter ponds and looking over all the beautiful waterfront properties on the larger lakes. We’d pick out houses and imagine them as our dream homes. The harmony we experienced in the kayak began to be manifested in our everyday lives; we had finally learned how to work as a team.
I enjoyed kayaking so much that I began to daydream about it. Sitting as close to the water as I could without being in it … warm sunshine on my face … surrounded by lush, sweet-smelling greenery … dragging my hands lazily through the warm, clear water … splashing the water on my hot feet … drifting downstream, letting the current carry me … taking time just to be …
I realized that the peace and harmony I experienced in the kayak with Rich, the delight in being carried downstream surrounded by water and greenery was a metaphor for a lifestyle, one I could have if I allowed God to be that current that carried me. Bit by bit I started letting go, releasing all the anxieties that used to wake me up at four in the morning in a cold sweat. I had worried most about our finances and now those worries were slowly floating away downstream.
I no longer wake up at 4 am in a cold sweat.
I realized that my whole life could be that single flow, directed by God’s current. All the different roles I take on: wife of a deacon, mother to two grown children, daughter, friend, marketing assistant, writer, musician, church volunteer, nature lover, lifelong student, a woman of faith–all of these roles, passions and interests could merge together into that one flow rather than exist as compartments with no relation to one other.
The Trinity is the perfect example of that wholeness: three separate persons in a continuous circle of unending love. Jesus was one with the Father and the Spirit and prayed that his followers could also be one. We are called to be in union with each other and we are also called be unified within ourselves. The flow of the water taught me that living my life in fragments that had no relation to one other was unhealthy. Following the example of the Trinity is the way. All I have to do is let myself float down God’s river of grace.
That’s what I’m learning to do now. I’m still at the beginning point of the journey. Knowledge however, is half the battle.
Susan lives in North Grafton and calls St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Westboro her home. She blogs regularly at www.beasone.org
I am grateful to the editor, Margaret Russell, for giving me this opportunity and I am pleased to be a small part of the excellent staff of the Catholic Free Press. Follow them on Twitter at @cfpnews.