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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Time and Tide

By Sally Gosen Case
Apr. 20, 2014

We realized too late we were making great time without trying. The current was rapidly pulling our canoe out toward the ocean. My husband and I got the canoe turned around, but I had misjudged the tide, the river’s current, and the now-rising wind. Paddling as hard as we could, we could barely hold our position, our small son blissfully unaware on his seat in the center.

The banks on either side of the estuary were steep, the tide was going out, and so were we. I was paddling in the bow, getting wet and digging hard as I prayed under my breath. It seemed to take a lifetime to gradually inch our way upstream between blasts of coastal summer wind.

I was the analytical one, the one who read the tide charts. It had been my decision to paddle out into the estuary. God had blessed me with an adoring husband and a bright, delightful child, and I felt I had failed them by putting them in danger.

Eventually we beached the canoe. On that long-ago afternoon I was afraid of many things. I couldn’t even swim. What I didn’t see through my self-doubt was that the day had been a simple learning experience, something that eventually happens to anyone who dabbles in boats. This is how we learn about tide charts and the real significance of all those numbers, as well as why wind speed matters.

The Holy Spirit is a wonderful teacher. He uses life to mold and change us, sometimes imperceptibly over time.

My husband, my companion in countless crazy adventures, was lost to cancer. No one thought to worry about that tiny, secret cell that set it all off. God let me live through my worst fear so I could see the world with different eyes.

With God’s help, everyone can swim through life’s challenges. We can navigate through far worse conditions than our family faced that day. As my faith grew, I found the courage and the money to take some college courses. I confronted my fear of heights and climbed a mountain. I bought my first kayak.

Years later my tall, sturdy son and I revisited that river in our sleek touring kayaks.

“Hey, Mom,” he insisted, “let’s paddle to the ocean!”

We headed out into the estuary, strong and confident. This time, I knew the tide and current; I had taken this river’s pulse. The wind was light; the water was clear as we passed the place where I had lost faith in myself so many years before.

I could see all the way to the bottom. I realized in surprised relief there was only about a foot of water beneath my boat. In that distant moment of panic and struggle, we could have simply gotten out of the canoe and walked to shore.

I found myself laughing and suspected God was laughing too. My son and I paddled on through the estuary. We glided along, starting to feel the ocean’s pull. Our small body of water opened to meet the sea.

It was shining silver, wide before us like a future without limits.

SALLY GOSEN CASE attends Toledo (Ore.) Foursquare Church.


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