The first time I actually thought about being in a fishing boat in a raging storm with Christ asleep on a cushion, was during a meditation given on that Gospel passage shortly after I converted to Christian Catholicism. The Legionnaire priest giving the meditation guaranteed my undivided attention because of the simple imagery he used when he applied this Gospel passage to my life; to the lives of each of us. To be fair, the Episcopalian priests of my childhood had most likely talked about this Gospel passage. But I had no recollection of it or of of any passage in the Bible, for that matter.
When a friend I’d met through Regnum Christi invited me to a Saturday morning ‘meditation’ , I was intrigued. This was the Gospel passage he chose. Probably because it was the passage for that weekend in the Christian Liturgy but I was too new to understand how any of this worked, still trying to pick up this brand new vocabulary of faith. Like meditation. In the Buddhist world in which I’d had some experience, meditation was something else entirely.
Despite the heavy Spanish accent of the priest, I was captivated from the very beginning of his talk. He was talking, it seemed to me, about a friend of his. An intimate friend and a faith which was both simple and convoluted. The priest’s expression was joyful and his smiles lit up the room. He was talking about who and what he loved and why he loved them.
That priest took me by the hand to climb into that boat, to sit there and see that these guys saw, feel what they felt: the terror and then the awe. His words created clear and vibrant images as he drew a picture of men who spent much of their lives on the water. Rough waters were part of the job; annoying but expected. To cause this much fear among these experienced men , these had to be humongous waves.
And yet here we have Christ asleep and on a cushion!
I recall the priest talking about our spiritual lives, comparing much of them to a canoe trip where the motion is constant yet serene. While we may not know exactly where we are going, we can see the land on both sides and view the trees and meadows as we slowly pass by. Faith is comfortable during those seasons. Trust is undemanding. Suddenly, without warning, our canoe reaches white water, class VI rapids; we are in very real danger. What happens then to our faith, to our trust, to our comfort with our God?