Mind quiet and still, I sat in my boat, leaning forward with my knees touching opposite sides of the kayak to keep balance. I rowed from left to right, my paddle slicing the water to propel me forward.
The stillness of the world around me was piercing. I wanted the river, the soft breeze, the trees, and the presence of God to speak wisdom to me. I, like many of us, get caught up in the drudgery of life. It can be hard to listen to the external world when our internal world is constantly being inundated with the cacophony of useless idle thoughts. Often times, we think we have control of our surroundings or we try to methodically plan out that which is not meant to be planned.
Being in my little vessel, slowly inching forward to my destination, I couldn't help but think about the beautiful metaphor God was showing me. The current of the river was pushing me where it willed, just as life seems to move us in directions that seem to be beyond our comprehension. The gentle wind was blowing in the direction it saw fit. I was just along for the ride. If I let the current of the river and the wind take me completely and not paddle, I probably would end up going in circles. I realized God was reminding me, it's all about balance.
As I used the paddle to move me, I realized the synergy that existed between the external world and me. I had to project my own individual identity, my rhythm of paddling, to let myself move in the direction I wished. I had to be careful about not shifting my weight on either side of the kayak too rapidly because I would have tipped over. Again, Balance. Even though I had an idea of which direction I wished for the vessel to go, I was also able to flow with where the water willed. I wasn't fighting it. I flowed but with my own direction, purpose and conviction.
So as much as I may try to plan, calculate and prepare for my future (ironically, this is my profession as an urban planner), I was reminded by the river that life will flow however it wills. You can float for the ride and exert some idea of where you'd like to go, but ultimately, God will move the wind and water as He wills. And I am His vessel.