Present in the Storm

I thought I was in control of, well pretty much everything. It started with my charter boat. My boat was my world. When you stepped on my boat, you stepped into my world. Storage was strategically placed and easy to access. The back deck had rod holders, downriggers and electronics perfectly mounted. Rods, reels and lures were always loaded and ready. There was no wasted space.

My clients came from every walk of life—CEO’s, families, attorneys, business owners, medical professionals, Joe six pack, athletes, service workers, and tradesmen. But when they stepped onto my boat, they entered my world. After all, who knows how to navigate a large boat? Who knows where the fishies are hiding? Who could possibly make sense of the dozen or more lines we were trolling let alone get the boat back to port and into the slip?

I was in control of my boat and my client’s destiny. And many days, it felt like I was in control of the fish’s destiny as well.

After the lines were set the hunt began. I was fully present to the world around me. In Zen Mode, I could feel my environment, the weather, and intuitively sense the currents below the boat. Setting a spread of lines was fueled by intuition, science, and experience. Instincts guided me as the boat and gear sliced through the water, interacting with every molecule of water, systematically searching for the schools of fish.

Through fishing and my boat, I brought order out of the chaos.

Today I didn’t go fishing. I watched the sun rise over the small pond beyond our living room window. I’m loving my neighbors and being a good citizen as I Shelter in Place. Lake Michigan and the fish are still there, but my world is significantly smaller.

It’s a bit of a paradox, in this day of Globalization and interconnectedness.

Yesterday the world seemed really big! You were a plane ride away from anywhere. Today, the world seems smaller and quieter. We’ve all had to give up activities, relationships, and things we take for granted.

Others have lost even more . . . their job, their business (I’m worried about my favorite little restaurant in Milwaukee, Crazy Water, I hope she survives!), a friend or family member to COVID-19. My wife’s best friend had her father snatched away by this unpredictable virus.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has cast its shadow across our nation and the world during Holy season. Apprentices of Jesus pause to remember and celebrate the miraculous intervention of Jesus into space and time.

But how will the faithful celebrate the miraculous if the churches are closed? Some might respond, “Thankfully the liquor stores are still open.” Yes, if you focus on the news it would be so easy to pour yourself another drink . . . But Jesus calls us to walk not in fear but faith. This Easter morning the faithful will rejoice in spirit and truth.

This COVID-19 pandemic is an event that will surely change everything and the irony of that taking place while we celebrate the other One event that changed everything. Two thousand years ago one man was hung on a cross . . . and died! Three days later that same man walked out of his tomb!

I ended last week’s blog by talking about the need to be still and reflective in this season. Not an easy task for a guy who has defined his life by his accomplishments and achievements. But, the practice of being still before creation has drawn me closer to the heart of God.

I cannot control the events overtaking our world. I used to think I was in control—of the lake and my life. Confession? That is an illusion that God has been slowly stripping away over the past 30-plus years. I’m still learning, but for years my intoxicating sense of control on the boat followed me ho