we arrived in wisconsin after an intense drive. i headed for the pontoon to take a nap in the july sun. jon and matt hit the dock and crashed for a bit. a couple of young lifeguards laid out on the dock in their matching forest city aquatic center suits. later, as they woke up, they decided to give the sailboat a try. i watched from my vantage point in the pontoon. there was more than enough wind to sail. more challenge to it than they had planned. as they made their way across the lake to the north and turned around and headed back toward the south shore, matt slid off backwards into the water. but he got back on and they glided toward the far banks of Lake 26. the turn once they got there was more difficult and the sail tipped all the way into the water. i watched helplessly from the pontoon. snapped a photo or two for fun.
over the next couple of hours they battled gravity and the wind and the waves. they fought the water’s hold on the sailboat and never did get it back upright without removing the mast. in the process the rudder was dislodged from it’s place. it was taken to a nearby dock and laid on the end. but somehow in the process of getting the boat back to it’s mooring post, the rudder disappeared. there were accusations about where it went, but it remained missing. they searched later that day. and again the next. donned goggles and searched the bottom of the lake. checked on shore. nowhere to be found.
what good is a sailboat without a rudder? this one remained tied to its mooring post. even with the mast back in its place. the centerboard there. the small craft was as the mercy of the wind and waves and it’s fickle whims without the missing rudder. no point in attempting to take her back on the open water.
there have been times i’ve felt rudderless. like everything else i needed was there. the boat, the mast and sails. the wind. the water. the sense of adventure. and yet no substantial sense of guidance. nothing to help me negotiate the forces around me that would toss and turn me wherever they choose. i remember when i was younger we had a pair of bookends around the house. i think mom and dad got them for a wedding gift. they were crafted to look like a great sea-faring vessel. at the base the raised letters spelled out the words, “Jesus, Savior, pilot me.” i remember a children’s song that boasted some of those same words.
much of the time the true rudder of our lives, the one that has the most influence on where we turn and where we do not turn is under the water, so to speak. under the surface. the most strategic moves in our lives are not those that are decided on the surface. exposed for any onlooker to see. rather, the rudder is down where it has the most leverage to decide our direction. in our hearts, at the core of who we are and Whom we believe in, that is where our direction is decided.