Saturday, February 21, 2015
DRIFTING ON LAKE GALILEE
Galilee Boat, Sea of Galilee, Israel
I’ve often said that if God goes somewhere to meditate it could easily be in the Maroon Bells National Park outside Aspen, Colorado. Two jagged, snow covered mountain peaks form a backdrop to a clear placid lake surrounded by white aspen trees. At sunset the mountains and their reflection in the lake turn a maroon color that is beyond description. I’m sure there are other locations as well, including the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent much of his time living, teaching and healing. It was here that he called his disciples to drop their nets and become fishers of men. He used the natural sound acoustics of the bay areas to teach from a boat just off shore so that his voice could be heard by thousands without the aid of modern electronics. He fed 5,000 with the example of trusting generosity and only five loaves of bread and two fish, as many of the pilgrims in the vast crowd opened their hearts and baskets. And one of his final acts on this earth was to prepare a breakfast of bread and fried fish on the Galilee shores for his disciples before his ascension.
We cast off on a replica of one of the wooden boats from the first century and powered our way along the awakening morning shoreline of the Galilee lake. First century people considered this vast body of water a sea, but present day maps now label it as Lake Kinneret. The day was overcast with scattered rain squalls drifting intermittently across the open waters. The winds were noticeably calm this morning, as it’s not uncommon for them to funnel through the 2,000 feet surrounding hills down to the 680 feet below sea level shoreline and whip up serious waves in the relatively shallow 200 feet deep waters. Jesus was asleep in such a gale when his frightened disciples woke him and exclaimed that they were about to parish. Jesus rose up, rebuked the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” At once there is a great calm. The disciples incredulously respond, “Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
As our boat motored out to the center of the lake, the engines were silenced and we began to quietly drift along the placid waters. The stressed-out, crazy-busy, merry-go-round world also drifted away and both the wind and the sea obeyed the command to be calm. God councils us in the Psalms to be still and know that he is God. Everyone in the boat fell silent as gentle rain drops briefly sprinkled on the surface water around us as time slowed to God’s time. And we all seemed to sense that the divine presence was drifting along with us in this sacred place on the calm waters of the Galilee.