Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Floating on a glassy sea.

The Waddenzee wasn't exactly on my radar to be honest.  Actually I had never heard of it before January this year.  Now I am a seasoned seafarer on that particular sea, too many seas but never mind.


It all began last January when Linda and I were walking along the lake shore of Lake Taupo one glorious summers afternoon.  As we walked and talked a two masted sailing ship full of tourist glided past.  I gazed at it and said to Linda, "I'd love to go on a proper sailing ship one day."  We joked about putting it on our bucket list - that list of things you would like to do before you die.  The problem with a bucket list is that as you tick them off as having done them you have to think of more things to do.  I am a great believer in living life to the full and I think we stop growing when we stop having adventures and challenges.


Anyway, about two weeks later we got an email from some dear friends in The Netherlands asking us if we would like to join them on a Fatherheart Sailing Holiday on the afore mention but hitherto unknown to me, Waddenzee. What is more it would be on a three masted clipper called the Noorderlicht. This means Northern Lights in Dutch which incidentally also figures on my bucket list.


Seven months later there we were standing on the quay at Harligen in the Netherlands about to step into another adventure.  The ship was about 50 metres long and slept 40 people, all like us, land lubbers who couldn't tell their port from their starboard, stern from the bows or belaying pins from their hair pins.  It was a very jolly group.  The weather turned out to be stunning. Just enough wind to fill the sails and not enough to turn us green.


For five days we sailed between the islands and around the sand banks. We stopped at beautiful little ports, sang sea shanties while we hoisted the sails, quoted lines on a very calm day from the Ancient Mariner about painted ships on a painted sea and had a fabulous time.  The pace of life slowed, the phones didn't ring, there was no internet on the ship.  Bliss.


Added bliss was contributed by Koos and Georgine's wonderful food, prepared each day with loving care and visual flare. Each meal was a feast for the senses, something Georgine believes is very important as she brings the love of God the Father into her everyday life.


Each day we shared from God's two books, the Bible and creation.  On two occasions I preached among the sand dunes on Vlieland and another time in a grassy field surrounded by trees.  Many of us encountered the Father's love in a new and fresh way.


As the week ended and we moored alongside the quay again, I wandered about my bucket list. I decided that there was something on the list that would be the biggest adventure of all. It will mean I have reached the end of my list. It is to go home to my Father, that step from these shadowlands, as CS Lewis calls them, this temporary transient life, to the true and the real which is life in eternity with Him. Tolkien, the close colleague and friend of Lewis also saw the reality of this in Lord of the Rings. There is the poignant time of the passing of the Elves, taking ship, along with Bilbo at the Grey Havens to the Islands across the sea.  For all of us there is poignancy in the passing from this existence in our fallen broken and shadowy world to the better, richer, brighter reality that is to come. The wonderful thing for us who know God is that we have already begun that journey.


For me this is the greatest adventure of all.



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