The sliver of orange that crested over the treetops gave credence to the possibility that this morning’s eclipse would be repeated this night. There was no real expectation. Like the anticipation of All Hallows Eve brings those who use spooky spoofs, so this creeping splinter of deep amber light seeped into the late evening sky. It teased with that hint of gray it had set with only twelve hours earlier. It is the October moon, hidden last night by the shadow of clouds and rain, come out to survey the wind and water upon which we were sailing.
The persistent breeze just north of west blew stiff enough for the racers to have hoped it would hold for a twice-round-the-course campaign. Gusty it was in the late afternoon dropping off in intensity toward evening as it steadied into a more even stream. I was there for the Night’s Light alone and this same wind that let the others give chase I gave over to Lifeline to pull me north. I trimmed the sails by sitting to starboard and heeling Lifeline over to keep a most northerly course. The wind in my face, I watched the moon over my shoulder, occasionally turning full to face it. It was as if there was a line from Lifeline’s bow to the bridge ahead, then to the moon. As the latter rose steadily into the sky, Lifeline moved steadily north.
It was colder this year than last. The darkness along the shoreline was as black, the moon not fully above the dust and deflection of a deeper atmosphere. Colder, as well, the crickets were quieter. Depending on their voices to warn me to tack wasn’t something to trust as I closed on the eastern shore. The wind rose a bit and gave Lifeline a lift. A few more degrees were all that was needed to clear a point ahead.
The causeway was busy and the wake noise of tires grew as a pounding surf. The moon was higher yet still not full bright so the lights and the noise were the gage for finding the causeway. I held course with care, then with concern, and finally with trepidation. Still I held longer, driving on forward dragging all I could from this northerly path. Now, yes NOW, … time to ‘about.
I let the wind do the work of taking the sails over and pushing them out away from Lifeline on her opposite side. I let the lines run until the course was reversed, then drew them up easy and snug. The moon was now high fully clear of the haze and it bathed Lifeline and I in full bright light. The cast-a-way cushion for crew overboard became a layer of warmth for my bum. I sat in the stern, my back against the ladder. Ahhhhhh…..the wind and the sails did the work.
The moon lit the night, fresh air filled my lungs, and the Spirit was refreshing my soul. Though I prefer to share this deck and the tides with those that I like and I love, this solitude is a respite that is no less than a gift from Above. As with all who seek to convene with their Lord in a manner of meditation, the journey to moments like this comes in the layers of ever spiraling work. The moonlight provides an occasion when full, but other nights likely do as well.
It begins with the commitment to ‘get underway’, the preps and the work on the vessel. There’s the journey ‘out of the channel’ and surveying all that appears. On the lake there are the boats, in the mind there are all those ‘other’ obstacles from the day and the week, and the month, …and the year that one must work to steer clear. Once ‘on the water’ the sails still need trimmed, the helm attended, and what may creep in from outside. A journey of the soul to touch the Veil and draw strength must permit other ‘boats’ to just pass in the night. As with Elijah in the cave, it is through the winds and the lightning and the storms we let pass that the quiet of God is allowed in.
So it was this night as I sailed down the lake, and the October full moon rose over Alum. In the quiet of the night, with an ever fading breeze, the peace I sought and required came. And my soul opened up, and battles were fought. Mud, water, and sludge were scrubbed away. As the moon bathed my body so God bathed my soul and in His mercy gave me vision and hope.
I find it necessary to bear solitude. However, I am the oldest of eight siblings and have nine cousins on one side of the family and thirteen on the other, so being part of a larger group is the norm for me. It was a gift to be met at the dock at 10p.m. by Reagan Cole, the crew of Sledgehammer, and several others with smiles and working hands. I’ve never not had to tie up my own boat. This night, I couldn’t get a hand on a line before they were all over and tied off. Thanks to all the Alum Creek sailors that bore a hand in securing Lifeline.