I Know the Boat

I Know the Boat

I know the boat.
Every creak
A mother’s comfort
Every curve
A mother’s caress.
The warmth of the wood
The ingrained scent of long years
Spent within the confines of this clearly defined space
My literal comfort zone.

The wind is high tonight
The waves surge
The boat leans and lurches
The creaks quicken
The dark deepens
Past the longest hour.
Dawn approaches
And all is well

But there
In the dim light
A distant movement
On the water
Catches my eye

A shape
A figure
A ghost?
Is it a ghost?

No, I hear a voice
I know the voice
Every word
A friend’s comfort.

‘It’s me
I’m here
Don’t be scared’

And in the relief and the shock
Of seeing this man
Who a few hours earlier
Broke one handful of food
Into too many pieces
For a whole hillside of people to eat
Now walking across the waves…
Ha! In the relief and the shock of it
The words just push past
Jumping the queue
Like they so often do
Not even checking in with my brain
Before they’re out and loud and in the world

‘Lord, if it is you,
tell me to come to you on the water.’

No, this boat, this is where I belong
These creaks, these curves, these smells
The reassuring familiarity and solidity
Under foot

‘Come,’ he says.

And before my poor brain
Can even lodge an objection
My feet are out over the edge of the boat
And I’m walking
On the water
I’m walking
Across the waves
No constraints
No confines

Just Jesus

But the wind
And the waves
And the wet between my toes
I look around me and I know
This is impossible

‘Jesus! I’m sinking! Save me!’

Back on the boat
Shivering in the spreading dawn
I see the warm wood of familiar curves
Hear their murmuring creaks
Breathe in the scent of long damp years
And I feel caged.

And I wonder
How many more times will I falter
And stumble wetly on the waves?
How many more times will I turn away from him
Long enough for doubts to seep in
Through my cracks and seams and broken corners?
How many more times will I re-cage myself
After he has set me free

‘Lord, I know it is you,
Don’t stop telling me to come to you on the water.
I want to come. Help me.’

Originally published on The Fuelcast, 14 October 2022