Excerpt from "Forward Movement"
"It is cliche to speak of something that is "out of the box." Perhaps we should replace the metaphor with "out of the boat." That’s what Peter did. He got out of the boat and walked across the water toward Jesus.
"We long for out-of-the-boat thinking—to step out, to be freed of conventional expectations, and to take a risk, like Peter. We forget that doing so is inevitably met by a strong wind resisting us. Like Peter, we are not too far out of the boat before the wind frightens us and we begin to sink. It is as if the forces of nature conspire to keep us in the boat, but there is just no way to Jesus but to get out and take a chance.
"The story about walking on the water is about faith taming the forces of nature. Faith is what compels Peter to get out of the boat in the first place. Faith is also what Peter relies on when he encounters nature’s resistance. Faith is how Jesus stills the storm. The choice we face is almost always between fear and faith.
"One is a matter of survival. One is a matter of life. Jesus calls us to come to life. "
Walking on Water in our Time – The Truman Show
When we confront our fears in real life they are no longer fears inside our head and we destroy them. However, that is easier said than done! It is usually a lengthy process with fits and starts.
One of the best examples of this is the 1998 movie, The Truman Show.
The amazing thing is that for much of the movie he is along in dealing with his fears. He doesn’t have an advantage of a counselor in the process.
Truman, played by Jim Carrey is caught inside a 24 hour-a-day comedy-melodrama in which he is the star. The idyllic island town where he grew up and lives is an immersive stage set enclosed in a giant dome (shown in part at the top of the page) with a ceiling that creates the illusion of a sky. Wind, rain, night, the moon, the stars, even the sun is a high-tech special effect. With some 5000 cameras placed around the city, Truman’s life is followed 24 hours a day, seven days a week — a nonstop telethon of reality programming for a public hungry for pathos and vicarious emotion. All of humanity watches as he goes through the stages of life and finds himself in realistic situations that are actually scripted and improvised, to give the show some of the dramatic density that separates entertainment from mundane life.
There is a god-like director that controls Truman’s televised world. His name is Christof. His name is also significant. He’s more like anti-Christ however, making it impossible for Truman to know the truth and have a normal life.
Truman falls in love in a library (symbol of the knowledge of good and evil). They kiss on the beach with the pounding surf in the background (foreshadowing what lies ahead). She is a bit player on the show and is quickly written out. She is banished from the show. Truman is told she moved away across the sea. Truman is now determined to leave Seahaven -the illusionary human-made Paradise. What is Paradise without Eve? Without love?
Dealing with Fear with the help of others – "Gus and the Net"
"Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain."–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Peter had Jesus to give him a hand; Truman was alone in confronting his uncertainties. But the Beaver had fireman Gus!
The plot is simple but effective in an episode of "Leave it to Beaver". In the episode entitled "Beaver’s Fear," (on Netflix) the Beaver was scared to ride the roller coaster at the county fair with Wally, Eddie Haskel, Lumpy, and one other. Before going to the fair, Beaver had a little talk with Gus the fireman, played by Burt Mustin. Gus was telling him this story about jumping from an upper window into a net, so that the other firemen could catch him. He was trying to help the Beav get over what he saw as "being afraid of being afraid". (In some cases Gus was able to talk to Beaver in a more honest fashion that Beaver’s Dad, Ward. But that’s another issue!)
Gus pointed out something that might help. You gotta get over your fear, period. You see, fear has a way of layering upon itself… in layers you really don’t need. So he told Beaver that when he got on that roller coaster, to just repeat the phrase to himself "Gus and the net, Gus and the net."
And it worked! Beaver faced down that roller coaster. He was being hazed by Eddie Haskel half the way through the ride! But the Beaver got over his fear, and by the end of the ride Eddie was bent over in sickness and fear and the Beaver was ready for another go around with Wally at his side.
"The Death Crawl" sequence from "Facing the Giants"
We turn from fear to faith. Jesus reaching an arm to help Peter reminds me of the coach’s inspiration in the movie, "Facing the Giants", to Brock, a boy who thought the football game was lost before it was played. The coach was under his own pressure having coached the team for six years and had not had a winning season. Like Peter, Brock learns something about the challenges of being a leader. As the coach says "You’re the most influential player on this team. If you walk around defeated so will they. God’s gifted you with the ability of leadership don’t waste it. "
Comforts Along the Path -Ten Verses to Inspire Courage
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13)
"Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." (Exodus 14:13)
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
"For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
"The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)
"But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30)
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)
"So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can Man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
A couple of links:
The Miracle of Mindfulness
"Bath into the Light" – Martin Gommel License: Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Miracle of Mindfulness
"The Spirituality Of Surfing: Finding Religion Riding The Waves"
This is a Huffington Post article of finding spirituality/religion in the water. To some surfing is a religion or an activity which allows one to find God in nature. To some, God’s presence envelops one who is surfing like a feeling of being in the womb.
"In the religious symbolism, water is one of the great images of life and energy. It’s a symbol of God’s presence."– Father Christian Mondor
Mondor goes on – "Water as a "symbol of God’s presence" is perhaps never more acutely felt than from a board in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by waves. It is from that place of alternating stillness and activity that the spiritual essence of surfing arises."
Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne (1966)
Cohen is a singer-songwriter from Canada in the 1960’s. From the 2nd verse dealing with the Gospel story:
"And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said ‘All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them’
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom
like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind."
Cohen wrote: "The song was begun, and the chord pattern was developed, before a woman’s name entered the song. And I knew it was a song about Montreal, it seemed to come out of that landscape that I loved very much in Montreal, which was the harbour, and the waterfront, and the sailors’ church there, called Notre Dame de Bon Secour, which stood out over the river, and I knew that there’re ships going by… At a certain point, I bumped into Suzanne Vaillancourt, who was the wife of a friend of mine, they were a stunning couple around Montreal at the time, physically stunning..I bumped into her one evening, and she invited me down to her place near the river. She had a loft, at a time when lofts were… the word wasn’t used. She had a space in a warehouse down there, and she invited me down, and I went with her, and she served me Constant Comment tea, which has little bits of oranges in it."
Suzanne writes: "By 1965 I had separated from Armand and was living with our little girl. Leonard would come over and I would serve him jasmine tea with mandarin oranges, and light a candle. It sounds like a seance, but obviously Leonard retained those images, too. I was living in a crooked house, so old with mahogany and stained glass. I loved the smell of the river and the freight trains and boats. Out of my window was total romance. Leonard was a mentor to me. We would walk together and we didn’t even have to talk. The sound of his boots and my heels was weird, like synchronicity in our footsteps. He felt it, I felt it and we got such a rush just grinning at each other. We were never lovers of the flesh but on a very deep level we were."
I first heard this song in my freshman year in college as my roommate sang this song often along with other Leonard Cohen songs. It was some time later that I heard the original version. Such a haunting song!