Nether Heyford Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul
Deborah and I were recently blessed with a couple of weeks’ holiday in Kingsbridge, South Devon. The town sits on an estuary, and on our first day, we enjoyed a walk along the river in the afternoon sunshine. Almost every day of our holiday thereafter, we walked alongside the river to a little café/bar, where we sat outside and enjoyed a cuppa. For the first week, the tide was always out, and we found ourselves watching the seabirds on the mudflats – several different kinds of seagull, and one very beautiful little egret, striding carefully through the shallows in search of something to eat.
As we visited the café towards the end of the second week, the tide was in, and the river teemed with human activity; power boats, little pleasure cruisers, kayaks, and paddleboards. Many of the paddleboarders were taking lessons, and they set off from a platform close to where we sat drinking our cups of coffee and tea. They began very gingerly, knelt on their boards, and carefully nudging themselves out into the river, gently paddling to a quieter part of the water. As they gained in confidence, they were able to stand and paddle up and down the river. But when one of the larger boats powered past, the paddleboarders often stood perfectly still, or dropped to their hands and knees and held on tight as their boards rocked in the larger boat’s wake.
Watching the paddleboarders in that moment, as the river went from a flat calm to a choppier surface, I was reminded of the story of Peter stepping out of the fishing boat into the stormy waters, told in Matthew’s Gospel (14:22-33). Like Peter, the beginners took a leap of faith, stepping on to their paddleboards, and learning to steer them through the busy waterway. Those in family groups encouraged one another, they listened to their instructor, and when the waves came, they often held on tight until the choppy waters became calm again.
We have all been through choppy waters recently, facing the storms of the coronavirus outbreak and its effects. Even now, as the lockdown eases, and things seem calmer, there will be times when the waves rise again. How might we respond when that happens? Maybe we need to listen carefully to government guidance, and act accordingly. Maybe we need to reach out to others for comfort and reassurance, or to offer our support to them. Or maybe, like Jesus, we need time alone to get our head around the changing circumstances, time to check in with our Father God. Or perhaps, like the paddleboarders, we just need to hold on tight, trusting to hope that there are better, calmer times ahead.
As these uncertain times continue, please be assured of my prayers for all of you. If there is anything I can do to help, please give me a ring.
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