Greetings. Yes, I know, it has been a while. The past couple of months have been a blur. Among other things, I have done my best to adapt to being a seminary substitute teacher. I’m enjoying this opportunity to link with the valiant youth of our area, but was unprepared for the exhaustion that seems to go along with this type of teaching. I am also now serving in the Primary realm, a place that has changed greatly since my last experience in this territory. It has been 20+ years—time spent in YW, R.S., Sunday School, etc. so a bit of adjusting is taking place as I grapple with a new calling. There is nowhere I would rather be right now, but it is a learning process. One of these days I will get the hang of sharing time, etc.
A couple of recent losses have tugged at my heartstrings, and caused me to ponder items I thought I had safely tucked away. At one point, the proverbial dam burst and that always takes a while to rebuild. How grateful I am for those who helped me find the strength to do so.
We’ve also had some fun family moments that cheer the heart and renew important bonds.
In short, life has happened. It’s happening to everyone. As I look around, I see that most are in the same boat—just paddling along, facing varied rapids and obstacles before calm water again appears.
Years ago, a fun pastime was to float a nearby river. We would eagerly bring inner tubes, canoes, and in our case, a bright orange plastic boat that bobbed about on the flowing water. We usually wore life jackets as a safety precaution, and loved the excitement of this activity. We would start at one end of the river, and arrive at the other end in time for a hot dog fest. It was something we looked forward to each summer during my teenage years.
Then one day, that fun activity took a twist. Although the river we floated was fairly calm, there were a few rapids along the way that added to the thrill. Those rapids always managed to fling a bit of water inside our boat. Most times we would paddle over to the shore and drain out the water before continuing along our way. On the day in question, two of my younger siblings were planning on participating in an annual floating activity with our ward. As luck would have it, I had to work that day at a local drive-in, so I wasn’t there for this adventure.
My brother, and one of his friends, as well as one of our sisters loaded up inside the hard-to-miss bright orange boat and headed off down the river. All went well until they reached the rapids. Seeking more excitement, my brother’s friend steered the boat into a large rock, thinking it would add to the fun if they bounced off that solid form. I was later told that though this experience seemed to take place in slow motion, it occurred in a matter of seconds. My brother and sister, knowing the danger, tried to discourage this young man from paddling into that rock, but he was a bit stubborn and though my brother tried to steer away from what he knew to be disaster, his friend still managed to maneuver the boat into the rock.
Disaster did indeed take place. The boat hit harder than my brother’s friend intended. It smashed into that rock, and the boat capsized. I’m not sure any of them were wearing life jackets. My brother said later that when the boat tipped over and they all plunged into the icy river, it was all he could do to reach the surface of the river. Then he had a choice to make: save the paddle, or go after our sister. Luckily, he made the right decision, and saved our sister. He dove in and helped her reach the surface. The three of them then hung onto the boat as it bounced wildly along the rapids, unable to do much about their predicament until they reached calmer water.
Thankfully, the only loss that day involved the two paddles. That experience opened everyone’s eyes to how quickly a disaster could take place, and the wisdom of steering clear of obstacles that could sink the boat.
There are obviously a ton of analogies that could be drawn from that experience. I will only make a couple. We are all floating along the river of life. We do our best to remain inside our boats, knowing these are safe places. However, there are times when maybe even despite our best efforts, we capsize, and then must make decisions regarding survival, and what to save, and what to let go.
I’ve let some things go the past couple of months, as I’ve done my best to keep my nose above water. And now that I’m reaching calmer water, I’m flipping the boat over, emptying the water, and attempting to climb aboard for the continued journey.
We’ve been cautioned by our leaders in recent times to stay inside the boat. That is indeed sound advice, and something I will strive to do in the days ahead. But it is reassuring to know that if the worst happens and the boat capsizes, there is always hope. How grateful I am for the loving support of our Savior who offers safety, peace, and healing, enough to help us survive the turbulent waters of this mortal existence.