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Stormy waters could not shake me

From the October 17, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

I’ve always loved taking trips out in the wilderness. Two summers ago, I was on my favorite trip of the summer: Pictured Rocks. It was a four-day, three-night kayaking trip along the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore in northern Michigan with three campers and a young counselor. The views were absolutely incredible. Everywhere I looked, ancient rock formations along the cliff side made my jaw drop.

On our second day, we awoke to rainfall. I went out to the shore to examine the conditions of the water to determine if we should travel by boat at all that day. I came back to the group with the disappointing news that we would have to wait for the conditions to become calmer before heading out. After a few hours, it finally calmed enough for us to get our boats out in the water.

We paddled along with a light drizzle streaming down our backs, excited for the day’s adventure. It wasn’t long, though, before the weather worsened and the waves grew into giant swells. With every wave that came, I lost sight of the rest of the group. Fear also rose up like a wave in my thoughts. The weather was frigid, the water even colder, and there was no good spot to dock the boats. I couldn’t stop worrying that a member of the group might go under and be unable to right his kayak. 

It would have been so easy to give in to that thought and start to freak out. However, right at that moment, I remembered a line from a hymn by Mary Baker Eddy in the Christian Science Hymnal: “For storm or shine, pure peace is thine, / Whate’er betide” (No. 160).

I realized that because God is everywhere, and peace is a quality of God, then peace must always be present. Stormy waters could not shake me. With this insight, I became calmer and was able to guide our group to a landing spot.

I began instructing my group on the proper landing technique in these large waves and watched as each member was able to dock naturally and with ease. I was very proud of them. I then headed in myself, happy that we had all made it to shore. 

As I was coming in to dock, however, I lost control of my kayak, and a giant wave tossed me like a rag doll into the lake. I was shaken by the fact that I was not able to dock correctly, and also shocked by how cold the water was.

I realized that because God is everywhere, and peace is a quality of God, then peace must always be present.

I pulled my boat ashore but was dazed and unable to focus. Everyone was cold and wet, and we weren’t able to start a fire. The peace I’d been feeling seemed shaken. I was an experienced trip leader, and somehow I had failed this group. I hadn’t read the weather right. I didn’t know whether to try to get us evacuated. I felt defeated.

The thought then came to me that since God is divine Principle, it’s God’s job to keep everyone safe, and His law of safety is always in operation. It’s God’s job to lead the group; as divine Mind, He was guiding each one of us. I realized that everything I’d taken on as my personal responsibility, God had already done. Harmony, as a quality of God, is a permanent fact that never changes. It occurred to me that my job, my responsibility, was to be a witness to God’s ever-present harmony, give gratitude for it, and follow His guidance as I fulfilled my duties. 

I had run a few miles away from the group in an attempt to get cellphone service, but now I ran back, knowing God would provide an answer. When I returned, they were boiling water on the stoves we’d brought and were using those as heat sources. Everyone was calm, and we resolved not to let fear and confusion influence us. God was at the helm of this wonderful trip. 

Expressing gratitude to God for the way He was protecting and shepherding us made the rest of the trip amazing and memorable and also brought us safely home.

— Lisa Andrews—Staff

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