Sailing with strength
Originally appeared online in the teen series Your Healings - March 22, 2022.
I’ve been on a sailing team for three years and recently learned to skipper a boat. I love sailing as a crew member, but skippering is really different. When you’re the skipper, you have to make a lot of very quick decisions based on not only the wind, currents, tide, and racecourse, but also where the other boats are in relation to yours. If you don’t consider everything, you might crash into another boat or break one of the rules and get a penalty.
It can feel incredibly intense and stressful, but it does not have to be. I have learned in Christian Science Sunday School that in these stressful moments I can pray and listen to God. God is omnipresent—everywhere. So no matter where you are or what situation you find yourself in, God, who is infinite intelligence, is right with you, and you can always hear God’s guidance. I recently had an experience that showed me that these ideas learned in Sunday School are applicable and true.
While we’d learned how to deal with what happens when you capsize, I had never had it happen to me before, and I was worried that we would have trouble righting the boat.
It was a very windy day, and I was assigned to sail with another girl who was also learning to skipper. When I got in the boat, I remembered that God is always with me—even out on a sailboat in the ocean. God is the source of my direction, guidance, and strength, and I’m His expression, which means I can never be separated from Him.
My teammate started out as the skipper, but after a couple of minutes we switched. We sailed out from the dock and passed a mooring field. Things were going well, but suddenly, after about 35 minutes, we capsized. While we’d learned how to deal with what happens when you capsize, I had never had it happen to me before, and I was worried that we would have trouble righting the boat.
I immediately swam around to the back and grabbed the centerboard. One of our coaches cruised over to us and reminded us to unclip some of the lines so the boat would right more easily. Because it was such a windy day, the coach also told us to do a scoop. A scoop is where one person rights the boat while the other person is tucked up inside. The person in the water is pulled up into the boat as the boat is righted. I was very worried, because during capsizing practice a few weeks earlier, I hadn’t been able to right a boat by myself—I wasn’t strong enough. This boat would be even heavier because my teammate was going to be inside of it.
I began to pray, knowing that God is the source of my strength.
I began to pray, knowing that God is the source of my strength. In Sunday School, we always close with “the scientific statement of being” from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 468). I thought of the closing lines, “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual,” which reminded me that since I am the likeness of God, and God is the source of all strength, I had the strength I needed to right the boat. Being spiritual meant that I didn’t have to feel limited by the circumstances I was in.
Once I got the all-clear from my teammate, I pulled down on the centerboard. The boat swung smoothly around, and the mast and the sail were back, pointing up into the sky! I had gotten the boat up all by myself, and it had even felt easy. My teammate then reached over and pulled me back into the boat. The coach congratulated us and said that she was impressed with how quickly we had righted the boat, especially since the winds were so high.
I love knowing that I am the expression of God, Love, who gives me the strength, courage, and joy to meet the challenges that I face on the water and on land.