Down with the Ship

They seemed like scratches on the inside,

Spider webby lines in the cool alumininum

That slid through this water.

I didn’t have to decide not to look at them.

Because they were almost nothing.

And I hadn’t seen them yet.


I put my oar in the water.

And you put your oar in the water.

And I liked how we found this rhythm.

Even as little beads.

Of what might have been just condensation.

Started to run down the sides.

Then, not even pools.  Just little drops by our sandaled-bare feet.


I used to wonder who saw it first.

But there’s no time for that anymore.

We were in the middle of the lake.

When suddenly life jackets seemed like a good idea.

When paying attention seemed suddenly like a good idea.

We fell out of the rhythm before we did anything else.


It was futile for both of us to keep rowing anyway.

Sometimes you don’t live you just cancel each other out.

You slid your oar in next to us.

And found a little cup that might be up to the job.

When you scooped the canoe bottom it scratched.

The cup was a third full and you tossed it off to the side.


I was still rowing then.

I couldn’t decide which shore was closer.

And the wind, the wind rose up from every direction.

Pushing us back, laughing at my shoulders straining.

Strokes that had been sure and true.


We weren’t moving much.

Your cup was coming up full now.

The water wasn’t just trickling in.

We yelled at each other with out using our voices.

“Go faster” We said to each other.


When I started baling you started rowing.

I didn’t say out loud it doesn’t work from the front.

You didn’t say out loud don’t just curve your hands and splash it out

Use the cup stupid.

It didn’t change anything.

We were sitting so low in the water.


When we began to row together.

I felt like I had found my friend.

We ignored it.

Until we couldn’t.

And we were still lost.


We are sitting here.

Not closer to the shore.

And now we are both baling it out.

And we are losing.

The first of the water is peeking up and over the top now.


It’s not long now.

But we are baling because it is all we can do.

We are baling because it is a way to pretend that we might get ahead.

I realize something,

As the water pushes the canoe down, toward the mucky bottom.

Maybe we didn’t cancel each other out.

Maybe we each just canceled ourselves.


There is a shore far away.

And so we begin to swim together.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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