Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Crossing the Ocean

One of the many adventures I’ve taken in my life was when I spent eight months aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the Gulf of Mexico working as a navigator and deckhand.  It was a unique experience and I believe when I had my first encounter with God. 

Up until that point in my life I was an angry young woman, struggling to raise two babies on my own, practically a baby myself at just twenty-one years old. I was scared, but I didn’t have the luxury to be scared or lick my wounds, I had two lives dependent upon me.  I could no longer continue my education and found myself in a little fishing town with no decent prospects for sustainable employment, so I took a chance and turned to the water. 

I’d been on a few recreational boats by this time, living in a Florida beach town, but I’d never been on one that went so far out that the shoreline would disappear.  I can’t explain the feeling that consumed me as I stood on the stern of that boat watching the Panacea shoreline dip in the horizon with the sunset.  I knew my life was going to change, again, but I had no idea what sort of adventure or hardships lay ahead for me. The only thing I knew was that in order for me to break away from the life I had, I had to sail into the unknown.   

The unknown was much bigger than me, much bigger than anything I had planned, expected or imagined, much like the ocean.  We think we can understand the size and scope of it vastness, but that’s from the perspective of the shoreline.  Once you get out past where the land disappears, the ocean becomes bigger and you finally see yourself as the tiny drop of existence you truly are.  You also find out that you’re not in control of as much as you think.  

It’s a scary thing to face mortality.  But, in order to cross the ocean, to venture into the unknown, to experience what you’ve never experienced, you have to have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  “Come what may.”  You don’t know how many times I’ve said those words and had the strength to stand in the face of the unknown and the uncertain, with my shoulders squared and the wind in my face.  Here I am once again, staring out and an ocean of uncertainty watching the storm clouds and the swelling waves, but I’m not so sure I have the courage to say it one more time.   

Here I am twenty-one years later, once again scared and angry facing MORE uncertainty, and in desperate need for another encounter with God. I wonder where this hardship is going to take me and who I will be at the end of it.  Will this be the storm that finally capsizes me, or will my stabilizers keep me afloat one more time.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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