My recent trip to Beaver Island was delightful! We rented a house on the western side of the island, right on the beach of Lake Michigan. The ground level of the home was nearly all windows, and we had a stunning view of the water and breathtaking sunsets. Beautiful weather, good company, and lazy days made for a full week of renewing Sabbath time for me. This was our first experience of Beaver Island, and we enjoyed discovering its history and community. We drove around the entire island in an hour, appreciating the thick woods filled with deer and turkeys, and the surrounding beaches opening to the Lake. We explored local shops and restaurants, took note of the schools and health clinic, admired lovely homes with a view, and wondered what the roads were like in the winter. We found a few churches, three museums, the lighthouse, and several references to King Strang – from the days of a Mormon colony on the Island.
Beaver Island is about 32 miles west of Charlevoix. You can reach the Island by plane (a 15 min. flight) or take the ferry (a 2 hr. ride). Since we wanted to have our car on the Island, we chose the ferry. It was a smooth and pleasant ride over to the Island, and as the blue-green waters of Lake Michigan pulled us away from the mainland, I could feel myself begin to relax. Everything was perfect, and I gave thanks for all that awaited us. The ride back home, however, was not quite as calm. The Lake was filled with gently rolling swells, just enough to roll the boat from side to side. While many settled into the lower, enclosed level of the ship to sleep or relax, I headed up and out! As I sat outside on the middle deck, breathing in the fresh air and looking out over the water, I felt much better. And then I experienced an incurable malady unique to preachers – this, I thought, will preach! Here are my thoughts:
- It occurred to me that once I was out on deck where I had a broader view of my surroundings, I felt less susceptible to each rock and roll of the boat. Getting out of the enclosed center of the ship helped me to see that the swells were not really as large as they felt, and the wide expanse of the lake was less threatening when I could see it. Sometimes, when we are deeply entrenched in what is familiar or comfortable, anything that “rocks the boat” can feel scary. Changes, new ideas, or unexpected movement can leave us feeling queasy – in body, mind, or heart. When I could see the swells coming, they were much easier to ride. Change can be less frightening when we step back and gain the perspective of the bigger picture.
- The captain of the ship maintained his course in spite of the swells. He didn’t turn back, but continued to make his way to Charlevoix. He evaluated the threat as minimal, and stayed the course. He knew we, and the ship, were not in danger even though we experienced some discomfort. When we are moving forward, we can’t allow minor challenges to divert us from our goal. If we do, we will never reach our destination.
- When the ship first began to roll, ever so gently, I admit to some irrational moments of fear. I envisioned the cars parked in the hold of the ship, and wondered if they would begin to roll, throwing their weight to one side or the other, and tipping it too far to be righted again. Now, you need to know that I do not know how to swim, beyond a few minutes of dog-paddling, and I’ve seen The Poseidon Adventure and Titanic. In no time at all, my very active imagination was adding us to the exhibits in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Mackinaw City! Sometimes, change can feel like that – it can generate irrational fears that threaten to overwhelm us. We imagine the worst, and it is tempting to pull back and refuse to change. But, if we “ride it out” we will discover that we are safer, and stronger, and braver than we think. If we “stay the course”, we will discover that God is leading us and we are going to be ok. If we pause and breathe deeply, we will discover that God has brought us to a new and wondrous place.
So, fellow travelers on this journey of faith, I am thankful that we are on the same ship for a while. I am eager to see how God will guide our sailing, and where God will take us. I know one thing – it will be an exciting adventure!
Shalom, Pastor Cathi
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THANK YOU! I want to thank each and every one of you for the wonderful celebration of my 25 years of pastoral ministry, including my first year of serving among you. It was such a surprise, and I loved every minute of it! Special thanks go to the SPRC for planning and plotting that delightful day. Pastor Cathi