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by Henry Brinton, December 18 2020

Advent Devotion: Signs of Light

Psalm 46, by Katherine Welch


In September, I arrived back in Maine grateful to be returning to a place deeply soothing to my soul. But I didn’t experience the immediate unwinding I had when arriving in July. I felt tense and fearful and agitated and always one moment from tears. 

One breezy afternoon during our first week back, I walked down the gangway to the float in our cove, where I sat alone, feeling the gentle waves rolling beneath me, smiling at the towering spruce trees swaying, and watching the boats – rocking and changing directions with every wave or shift in the wind, tugging on the chains connecting them to their enormous, sunk, concrete moorings, but secure in those connections.

And I recognized I felt unmoored. Adrift. 

Until recently, life had continued largely uninterrupted on a certain path for decades, and I had become so accustomed to that path that I came to expect it would always be there. 

I had become accustomed to walking through this world with a certain, baseline risk to my health and safety. I had become accustomed to my routine – kids in school, Sunday morning church, Friday night dinners out, kid schlepping, visiting parents, Target runs. I had become accustomed to a seemingly unshakable socioeconomic standing. I had become accustomed to living in a country with minimal unrest. I had become accustomed to the peaceful transfer of power among our leaders. 

I began to rely on that predictability. And predictability began to feel like a mooring to me. So this year, when so much of that predictability has been upended, it has been easy to feel unmoored. Even when I knew better. Even when I know Who my true mooring is. 

Years ago, when I first started coming to Maine, I was surprised that when a storm was predicted items on land might get lashed down yet any boats tied to the float would be moved to their moorings out in the cove. But, as I learned, it is impossible to tether the boats securely enough to prevent them from banging against the float in a storm. They are safer with some freedom to move out on their moorings.

This fall, we have had several days of intense wind in camp. The boys watched with concern one day as Mussels (the motorboat) took on water as she dipped and waves crashed against her. But David reminded the boys that Mussels has a bilge pump and that she is safest in the cove – where she is rocked by the wind and waves but safely secured to her mooring. And she was. The waves eventually subsided, and Mussels once again lazily bobbed in the cove. 

I’m going to get blown around in the storms -- and there have been many this year – and it may feel a lot like being unmoored. 

But the fear and agitation I was feeling when I arrived in Maine this fall didn’t come from being unmoored. Those feelings came from forgetting I was moored. 

I believed I was moored to health and safety and financial stability and democracy and routine, so their disruption felt like becoming unmoored. But their disruption is just a storm. And when I began to get rocked about, mistaking the storm for cut moorings, I grabbed hold to the float for dear life. And got banged up. I responded by further tightening my grip. And I continued to get banged up. So I gripped with all my strength to the routine and stability I had come to rely on, and I dared the universe to try and wrest my fears and anxiety from my fists. Until I got so banged up that I couldn’t hold on any longer and knew I had to find another way. 

I forgot that the safest place to be in a storm is on the mooring. Where I might tug against the mooring and shift directions wildly and even take on water. Where the ability to move with the storm may feel deeply unsettling. But where I can safely weather the storm if I remember the waves and wind cannot carry me away, if I remember that storms pass. Where God always maintains a firm hold on me, my rock in any storm. I can release my grip because He will never loosen His.

Written by

by Henry Brinton

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