Lighthouses, Navigation, and Family Rituals

I grew up inland, but I have spent some time on the water, like many, in everything from canoes to cruise ships. If fear were a liquid in a spray bottle, the unexpected list of a boat would be like a quick shpritz. Most times I can talk myself intellectually out of what my soul fears spiritually. (Other times, such as when I am learning to row an unstable single scull, I just flop into the drink.)

When people who have been around boats all their lives have bad dreams, does the nightmare scenario involve choppy seas, night fog, and an invisible leeward shore? The rocks are there, and you can hear surf…but how far?

rowboatMy unsettled dreams can be like that, even in my thoroughly inland life. During the week, the nightmare metaphor can pop up, laden with symbolism about the uncertainty of what will be, where to go, what to do, when and whom to trust…and on and on.

Where are the lighthouses? One beacon would do the trick, orient us, keep us on course.

Families build lighthouses, day by day and year by year. Without even knowing they are doing it, families raise tall towers that look out over life’s waves and throw a powerful light, a confident Fresnel to whoever might need it.

One of ours: Saturdays, my son and I both have rowing activities. He has on-the-water practice; I have a land workout (weights, stretches, endurance, core work, all with my boat’s crew). After, we come home, where my wife delights in making the best scrambled egg burritos you will ever have. She has a technique, about which she is intentionally vague, that fluffs up the eggs remarkably. Their heat melts the shredded cheese inside the flour tortillas, and we slather on sour cream, medium salsa, and Cholula hot sauce. We top it all off with sliced oranges or fresh strawberries.

And for 20 minutes, we are together, laughing, going over what happened at practice, talking about the week or the weekend. No matter what else Saturday brings, we have that. And we look forward to it all week.

It’s a beacon. Fortunately, my shoreline is dotted with them.

© 2014 Adam Barr

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