It is the end of September, and there is a chill in the air. Summer is giving up her last gasps, and already the docks on White Bear Lake are beginning to be pulled back onto shore for their winter repose. While each cooler day brings fewer and fewer boats to the lake, I am stubbornly refusing to hang up my paddleboard. I have had a splendid summer of paddling, venturing out onto the lake and around Manitou Island early most mornings and many evenings. On the summer night of the Buck Moon, several friends and I were paddling on the lake until midnight!
By this time of the year, I have found my sea legs, but it certainly wasn’t always the case. In mid-May, at the beginning of the paddling season, my balance on the board was rather sketchy, and waves caused by wind and wake resulted in several unintended full-immersion baptisms! Now, however, no amount of unsettled water can topple me from my paddleboard. As a result of many hours spent on the board over the course of the summer, I have found my balance.
The days in which we are currently living feel to me as so many stormy waves. The nagging pandemic, national and local politics, tempestuous weather all over the world, raging inflation… all of these have combined to rock our lives, and this is to say nothing of the everyday personal and familial trials that just go along with being a living, breathing human being. So, how do we maintain our balance and stay healthy and joyful as we engage our days?
Throughout the years, faithful women and men have established and passed on a reliable set of spiritual practices that have helped people maintain a healthy balance to their lives. Indeed, when referring to the early Jesus-followers who had their own very stormy waters to navigate, the author of the book of Acts says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). That’s a pretty good formula: formation, fellowship, worship, and prayer. And not coincidentally, that’s a pretty good description for what we do at St. John’s every Sunday!
Finding our own spiritual sea-legs, however, doesn’t happen with just one Sunday morning of formation, fellowship, worship and prayer. Just as I found balance on my paddleboard through a daily regime of paddling, our faith becomes strong and fruitful when it happens by regularly coming together and engaging in such practices. Church can truly be that place where we find our balance and find ways to live abundantly, joyfully, and lovingly in a chaotic world.