Me and My Red Canoe
I attend and lead Silent Retreats at a very special Retreat Center in East Texas called Kaleo Lodge. From the very first Silent Retreat I ever attended there, I was the only one in our group who took out a canoe in my time with God. The experience in the canoe brought me great spiritual lessons and very special memories of being silent and still with God. Every year after, I always made sure that I had time in my red canoe, and although each journey was different, they always left me with inspiration and companionship.
There have only been two times (out of about 12 experiences there) that I didnot take out the red canoe. The first was the year that the lake was drainedand it was impossible to take it out. Instead I walked around the places I hadonce canoed and that was very delightful. The other time was a year that I wentthere completely exhausted and carrying a heavy burden of grief that I did notrealize I had. That year I did little but sleep and cry and stay near the fireand my bedroom.
I tell you all that to explain about my experience this past spring with my redcanoe. When I arrived I noticed the canoe in the landing area, almost waitingfor me to come and take my ride. I was busy the first afternoon getting thingsready, so I didn’t have time to walk down to the lake for more inspection.The next morning I noticed it was not in the landing area and assumed that someonewas out in it. The day was cold and I couldn’t get warm, so I had decidedthat this would be the third time that I attended a retreat at Kaleo Lodge anddid not go out in my canoe. Instead I went down to the dock to sit in the sunand read. When I did, I noticed that the red canoe wasn’t being used byanyone, but that it had floated loose and was drifting up against the reeds thatguarded the shore. There were two paddles in the canoe and I had the thoughtthat I could rescue the canoe if I were brave enough to walk through those reeds.I quickly rejected this plan as I was sure to get wet in the process and I wasalready so cold. I decided I would tell the workers the state of the canoe andleave it to them to find a way to restore it to the shore.
As I sat, I heard the Lord call out to me to be the rescuer of the canoe in thanksgivingto all the ways the workers were serving me, not to add something else to theirlist of things to do. I set out to rescue the red canoe that had given me somany spiritual lessons in the past, thinking of it as an assignment to help others.God gave me another plan: take the other canoe and tie it up and bring it inthat way. This plan worked great, and when I got up to the canoe, I realizedthat it was half-way full of water, so my earlier plan would not have worked.I tied the red canoe to mine and drug it to land. I took the canoe I used torescue my red canoe up against the tree and set back to pull in the red one.I couldn’t budge it because the water weighed it down too much. I knewI had to bail the water out before my assignment was complete. I got a pail andstarted bailing. After 20 gallons (I was counting) I looked back and couldn’tsee that I had made any progress. I was so discouraged, but I kept on bailing.I knew progress had been made even if I could not see it. It took about 30 gallonsuntil I could see that there was truly less water than before. The canoe wasstill too heavy, so I bailed until it was almost gone and the canoe was lightenough for me to pull onto shore and turn over on its side. The bailing was somuch easier once I knew for sure that I was making a difference and I probablytook out more than necessary to make the move. God had many more unique and speciallessons to teach me on my red canoe. The most important lesson of all: God’sways are always higher than my ways. Romans 11:33-36 is a fitting scripture toend this retelling of my experience.
(33) Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
(34) "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
(35) "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
(36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
I love and celebrate the ways God surprises me with spiritual insights and blessings in unsearchable and beyond tracing out ways! Respond to Dr. Newman's article