Running Away to Sea
When my kids were little they fantasized about running away to sea. Their plan was to buy an old boat, fix it up, and sail around the world. They hung a world map in the hallway and plotted their trip with thumbtacks and yarn, Redwood City through the Golden Gate to Tahiti and Madagascar and beyond. After school we’d often stop at Pete’s Harbor, the funky Redwood City public marina (now condos), to admire the old wooden boats and listen to crusty sailors regale my would-be mariners with tall tales of the sea.
Running away to sea means adventure, daring, leaving behind family and hassles, just you and the elements. “Stuck at home? Shine at sea!” promises a company that offers sailing lessons and high sea adventures for midlife executives.
I almost felt like I was running away this past month when I left on my trip. It wasn’t to sea, but it was to the pilgrimage retreat I take every other year in France. I was also “away” from these Wednesday Blue Theology posts about ocean spirituality and stewardship the month before that, writing fire related laments and reflections. It’s good to be back.
But it was good also to be away, at least the France month, to a place and language and time totally different, really away away, tres loin. I may not have been literally at sea, but I experienced depth and mystery (like diving deep) and I return cleansed and buoyed (like a good swim.)
I can see why “running away to sea” would be a dream of many kids and frustrated execs. At sea the vast horizons open us up beyond our usual limits. We can see farther. Ocean depths force us beneath our surface assumptions. We can feel more deeply.
Running away to sea is good for our soul.
Oh sure, I am romanticizing sea life. It’s dangerous and cold and windy and wet. Just ask the drenched masses yearning to breathe free on all those refugee vessels. For most of us dreamers and sailors, and surely for refugees, our fondest hope is for shore and home.
My trip took me away, blessedly away, far away. I walked and walked, prayed and prayed, sang and sang. And then it brought me safely home. Away and home. A good rhythm. Good sailing. A good return.
(On our Blue Theology retreats and mission trips you can do your soul a favor and run away to sea for the day, whale watching and kayaking on Monterey Bay. Bluetheology.com)