I have just finished reading "The Boys in the Boat" and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. The main character Joe Rantz is abandoned by his father not once but twice. Forced at the age of 10 to move out of the house and fend for himself and again as a high school student left by his father at a their half built house during the Depression. Understandably Joe promised himself he would never allow himself to feel hurt or abandoned again. He joins the crew team at Washington University and has a difficult time fitting in with the other boys. It is only when the boat builder George Pocock tells him the only way to be a success at rowing is to trust the others in the boat. For someone like Joe it seemed almost impossible but he realized standing on the dock gazing out over the lake, it was something he needed to do. It was only after he began to trust, did he feel like part of the team and have friendships with them.
How many times have each of us in our own lives tried to row our own boats? It is in the DNA of our country to be rugged survivalists and learn self-reliance. Having the ability to be independent is obviously a wonderful thing but fierce independence like Joe had leads only to misery and despair. We need one another and we need those gentle voices, the George Pocock's, of the world to prod us when need be to take a chance on our fellow passengers in life. The journey is so much richer when we journey together.
I am dipping into Paula D'Arcy's book "Waking Up to This Day" about finding the beauty that is in front of us everyday. If we pay attention. That is what I find to be key not only about the book but also in living. Perhaps you are like me, so focused on something, you fail to see the world around you. I know I find when I look up and see all that is present in the world, beautiful buildings, other people and the beauty of creation, I can see God's hand in all of it. Years ago when we were traveling in Austria, the tour guide reminded us all to look up. Many of us were fixed on what was eye level in city of Vienna. I remember chuckling at her words, but obviously they have deeply resonated with me because I still hear her voice gently prodding me to, "Look up." How many interesting things have I seen in my life since then because of those two words.
Jesus used simple language to tell stories and get his point across to his followers. We often think the complicated must be better than the simple. But we know from listening to Jesus' stories and parables that he didn't need to explain God's love to us with complicated language or theological treatises. The simple stories of birds in the air or mustard seeds give us pause to "look up" and see the majesty in God's world.