Power stroke, J-stroke, Pry, Sweep, Draw. A successful canoeing experience relies on a combination of these maneuvers, good communication and confidence using maps. May I also suggest avoiding eddies, leaning towards oncoming rocks and ruddering for quick turns are helpful. But in all reality, skip the jargon and recognize one thing: you are at the mercy of the water.
This summer I had the privilege of co-facilitating three weeks of canoeing with about a dozen adolescent boys. Within this time not only did I quickly come to develop a tolerance for high school humor, and an appreciation for a good night’s sleep, but I came to realize the power of water.
With upwards of ten hours a day spent on the water, I came to recognize my own strength, or rather, lack thereof. No matter how hard I pulled or how fast I paddled, the current was a larger determinate of my path and arrival time than my own might. It wasn’t until I finally learned to join the current did I come to see the river as a source of strength and renewal. The water became something to rely on. Through the routine of our days we came to praise our God who carried us — the tired, the restless, the expectant and the homebound.
This week’s Scriptures call us to identify the ways God renews our being. It invites us to participate in the changing of our minds: go beyond observation, acknowledge our weakness and open ourselves to the hope of restoration.