Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Water Walking

Being surrounded by water here on Maui, I find my mind drifting to one of last week's lectionary verses about Jesus coming to the disciples on the water, ostensibly "on top of the water."  Not only do I drift to those verses but to a thought I've had many times in my life and a thought you  may have entertained as well.  That is - have you ever thought personally about your own walking on water?  I know silly, but have you?

Back to the Pacific Ocean I'm seeing from the condo, not a small sea, but still it's water, the wind is howling, and the ocean has white caps on it; a similar situation I think that Jesus' disciples might have found themselves in.  A little more sea than they'd bargained for, wondering if they would perish or at least lose their boat and livelihood, what must they have thought to see Jesus coming toward them?

Did they fear it was the end for them, that they were hallucinating, that perhaps they were already dead with an apparition of God appearing before them?  Did they swear or pray or cry out for mercy?  Were they speechless with fear and anxiety?  Did it occur to them that Jesus was coming to them  and would calm the waters, save their lives? 

And of Jesus - did he really "walk" on the water, was he wearing his sandals or was he barefooted with sandals in hand or pocket?  Did he glide like a curling stone or was he more like Michael Jackson gliding smoothly as though in a heavenly moonwalk stride?  Or did he simply float above the  tumultuous sea like a hover craft?  Were his hair and robes in total mad man-looking disarray, soaking wet, or dry as though insulated by a heavenly plastic shield?  See what I mean, there's a lot more to Jesus just walking out and getting in the boat.....did he step gently over the side with a long stride or did he sort of lunge and trip into the middle as if crash landing off a wave?  Is that when he decided to command the sea to be still?

However he navigated the waters, barefoot or sandaled,  Jesus accomplished the walking and it looked so simple that Peter confidently stepped out of the boat to join Him.  Quickly realizing that no matter how much faith he had to step over the side of the boat, he did not have enough of it to keep himself at Jesus' level of ability, Peter cried out at once for Jesus' help.

So, have you ever thought of walking on water or is it a world record, a never-since gold medal honor that you've always left for Jesus to hold on his own?  And other of Jesus' examples and teachings such as loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, or just trying to love ourselves - is that even too hard for us to accomplish, giving it up as impossible rather than even giving it a try. Surely there is so much faith, example, and story in the telling of Jesus' water walk that it has lasted 2000 years.  

What would Jesus' water walk look like to us today or what does it look like today when our boats are in danger of sinking, our faith is in need of resuscitation, our lives are not on the even keel that they're supposed to be?  Are we willing to take one step toward Jesus in order to ask for his help, his hand, his love or is it a fairy tale story to even imagine.....I mean, do you really think he walked on the water?

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  1. A wonderful post.

    Yes, I really think he walked on water. It's such a vivid image, like a memory. My version is the mad disarray one.

    And Peter always just cracks me up. He's such a goof, so easy to relate to.

    I can't help, though, but think about my friend who was walking on water (in the form of ice) today, and fell and broke her arm in two places.

  2. As a former sailboat skipper who has been in some pretty rough weather, I can attest that my words and actions were not for Godly ears. And that's what I imagine was going on in the boat when Jesus came near, which made it all the worse for Peter. It's like having a raving blowout about one's boss when someone points out that he/she has just walked into the room. "Oops! No, no; I'll come to you, you don't have to come to me. Hang on just a sec and I'll be right over."

  3. Hi Pollinatrix,
    I'm glad you could "hang in there" with me on the wild disarray thing. I just see Jesus more human like that apparition like as in the wikipedia photo I attached.....although I do like the strength of the photo on purely painterly terms, the waves, the boat, Peter reaching out. And Peter, so like us, wasn't he?
    And ouch! for your friend - not a soft landing on solid water!!

  4. CP - I love your comments about the post. You're right there with us "in the boat" - we are indeed human and not always "God-like". Your description of the scene further enhances my vision of what may have been going on in the boat, at that time and place. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Your wonderful post brings to mind this poem from Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky:

    "That Skill

    "A thorn has entered your foot. That is why you / weep at times at /night.

    "There are some in this world / who can pull it / out.

    "The skill that takes they have / learned from / Him."

    We are not all blessed with the ability to walk on water. But if we have enough sense, we are able to recognize and follow the One who can."

  6. It seems He never lets Himself remain untouched by what He created. By that, it seems, that the wind blew and the waves spashed just as always. Which makes the feat all the more beautiful. Because, of course He did walk on the water. And leaping after Him is exactly the sort of rash activity I wish would replace my usual impulses.

  7. Maureen -
    "if we have enough sense, etc." So true, God grant us the sense to recognize and follow!

    P-K, Yes, I so agree that "my logic" may often keep me from leaping!