October 05, 2018 | by Gregg DeMey
I spent last weekend floating away on a spiritual high. This may sound a little sketchy, but my particular state of bliss was achieved through fresh air, clean water, a kayak, and the presence of two of my brothers-in-law!
Each fall, I take part in a three day “guys trip” in Northern Michigan where paddling as many miles as possible is the goal. It’s a beautiful experience. We witness the beginning of fall’s flames kissing the top of forest branches. We find quiet corners of rivers and lakes untouched by human activity and noise. We get to see the noble wildness of creatures like river otters chattering as they swim and play or the annual miracle of thousands of spawning salmon.
However, of all the beautiful and wondrous things I’ve seen from my kayak, the chief reason I return to my little boat is to experience the power of the river itself. There is a feeling I get in my kayak that’s akin to how I feel during a powerful worship service or a stirring time of prayer. Let me explain.
It takes a decent amount of planning and preparation to kayak successfully. There’s a lot of gear Involved: a paddle, life jacket, safety ropes, skirt (don’t ask! this is legit, though), knife for rescue purposes, etc. Then there’s the logistical hurdle of hoisting a small watercraft onto the roof of a car and securing it for highway travel. In my case, there’s about 350 miles that need to be traversed to find a suitably remote location. And for what?! All to get into the flow of a river.
All the gear, all the packing, all the driving is worth it the moment my kayak gets carried along by the river. Whether I’m there or not, the river flows inexorably on from her source to her destination. The river was there before I was born. The river will endure when I am gone. The flow of the river carries on. This is why kayaking seems a mystical, spiritual experience to me.
In my experience of God, the person of the Holy Spirit is akin to the flow of a northern river.
The Spirit was there before I was born. The Spirit will endure after I am gone. The Spirit of God—whose source is the love between the other two members of the Holy Trinity—inexorably carries the universe toward its ultimate goal: the glory of God! #g2G
It helps my spiritual imagination to float in a small boat on cool Michigan waters. It helps me remember that an ancient power, much greater my own limited energies, is carrying me and my travelling companions on. The Spirit carries us on toward whatever surprise may lie around the next bend in the river. The Spirit carries us on toward a destination and a final goal.
While we are not all called to kayak, I do believe we are all called to stay in the flow of the Holy Spirit. I’m grateful that there’s a sense at Elmhurst CRC these days that there is a strong spiritual current moving us onward together. Peace to you,