“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to the disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:35-41)
Our world, as children, revolved around a small harbor on the South Shore of Massachusetts. To say that we went sailing before we were born is not an exaggeration. Children of sailors, we had a small boat, almost as wide as it was long, to sail around the harbor and begin to learn the skill of racing. Each Sunday afternoon in winter one sibling would crew for Dad in Frostbite Races inside the harbor, conveniently scheduled to begin after the local church services had concluded. The family spent many summer days out sailing on the ocean in our larger sailboat, quite comfortable at sea.
My brother and I finally convinced Dad that we were skilled enough to race our 15” Mercury sailboat outside the mouth of the harbor, on the ocean! The breakwater had always been our limit; we were never to leave the mouth of the harbor without Mom or Dad. As perhaps young teenagers with two lifetimes of experience sailing, we were quite confident in our skills. We were sure our only challenge was to live up to the family name and win the race. It didn’t take long before we knew a couple of kids were no match for the Atlantic Ocean. The sea became choppy and the wind changed direction. We had to at least finish the race, but we were both more concerned about how we were going to get back inside the mouth of the harbor. Neither of us wanted to admit that we had somehow failed to inherit Dad’s seemingly innate skill at handling a sailboat and reading the wind, weather, and surface of the water. We did not share our fears; we lacked faith and each did not want the other to know of our self-doubt. It was perhaps forty years before my brother and I reminisced about that day and found that we both had been gripped by exactly the same fears. I can feel the disciples panic as the waves broke over their boat. Fortunately, God was with us also as we made our way past the Coast Guard (another symbol that God was, indeed, watching over us) and rocky breakwater, safely into the harbor.