Water and waves

If you are holidaying in Britain near to the coast, I would strongly advice that you invest in a wetsuit. During our summer break, temperatures did not reach the dizzy heights of earlier in the year. The wind chill made the ice creams less inviting; the heat from the BBQ was more welcome! We might try to go south next year, Mediterranean south – the wetsuits will stay at home.

We were joined again by some old friends!

But the old adage was used many times during the holiday, ‘once you get in, it doesn’t seem so cold!’ Perhaps that was true of the heated indoor pool, the children tried to convince me the same was true of the sea. The full-body wet suit was a great help. One of the appeals of the sea in north Cornwall is the surf. I am not agile enough to stand up on a surf board but I do enjoy body boarding. Part of the skill is to wait for the wave and time your launch as the wave breaks. I love the crash of the water, the surge of energy as the wave carries you, hurtling towards the beach. However, I am prone to look for the perfect wave, waiting in deeper water for the big one to break. The problem with this method is that fewer waves seem to form in time and the wait for the perfect wave can become frustrating.

Surf up, the waters attract many who want to experience the thrill of the ride.

I cannot but help reflect upon the similarities between surfing and the life of faith. The bigger the surf, the stormier the waters, the more exhilarating the ride becomes. No wave is the same. Sometimes a wave looks like it is gathering in size and momentum only to snuffle out. The best waves are those that join another, coupling up to make a supercharged experience! And then there are those who wait in the deeper waters, wanting an experience but not able to jump on, not qualified to judge the significance of time and tide. These can be dangerous waters and they require a guide, (a lifesaver) to be present. Swimming between the flags is the best strategy in order to keep safe from harm. The flags are navigational tools, keeping us away from the rocks, enabling us to be seen by those who care.

If our faith is real, honest and true, it will reveal something of the surfers experience. It will be thrilling because we are not in control, a force much greater than ourselves is the source of our journey. We will hear the shouts and screams of others who accompany us in the waters, we might travel with them part of the way. If we enjoy our faith, we might even lose that sense of self which holds us back at times. But what is our purpose? To enjoy creation, to enjoy ourselves, to become alive to the thrill of the gift that we have been given.

Please note: Harvest Thanksgiving will be at 10am on Sunday 3rd September at St Michael’s.

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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.