When Australia 2 sailed to victory in the America’s Cup in 1983, there was one crew member with a unique job atop the mast of this wing-keeled creation: to watch for wind-shifts on the course. The crew on the deck expended its energies on negotiating through the winds and the waves in which the boat found itself. But this was not enough – they needed to know where the best wind would be found so that they could take greatest advantage of the conditions in the race. History tells us the final chapter.
How often we feel like the crew on deck: exhausting ourselves in the daily battles of raising sails, tacking and jibing, making sure that we are not upended or stalled by the conditions of the day. Some progress is what we hope for.
And there are times when we make our way by reflecting on the trail we have made. Looking back at the wake, we are encouraged that we made some progress in the battle, and are still moving forward at least. To sit and dream of what might be; to examine the surrounding environment to look for shifts and currents: this is the stuff of the dream; that which we would love to do, but don’t have the time or space.
Of course, when the circumstances are unchanging, we can get away without surveying what lies ahead. But times have not only changed, they remain dynamic. When we fail to take account of this, we not only run the risk of falling behind in the race, but missing the course altogether!
It might be too much to have that proverbial person up our own masts constantly surveying for us, but we do need to take regular time out to reflect on the priorities and commitments which dominate our lives in order to discern whether they still warrant the sort of attention we are giving them.
One senses that, as a community, we are in the process of finding the race again, as well as discerning the shifts which have already taken place. We can be thankful for the discernment of God, available through prayer and listening, which can grant us that “Eighth Day” perspective and guidance. May He give us courage, wisdom and daring as we seek to join our local community in this journey.
March 7, 2004