Reflections on mindfulness, walking on water, rescuing others or being rescued —themes from Matthew 14

There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in. ― Desmond Tutu

AloneMaya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Mindful Walking

This story is told of the sage Ramakrishna. Once a man came to Ramakrishna, sitting on the banks of the Ganges. “Master,” he called to Ramakrishna, “Look! After fourteen years of dedicated practice I have finally achieved my life’s goal. I can walk now on water.”

“Fie on it,” Ramakrishna replied. “You have achieved what is worth only a penny, for what you have spent a lifetime acquiring, ordinary people do by paying the ferry boatman a penny.” — David Anderson, findingyoursoul.com

When the 12 Thai boys who were trapped in a cave and were rescued one by one were first discovered by British divers earlier this month, they were reportedly meditating. “Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting. No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing,” the mother of one of the boys told the AP, referring to a widely shared video of the moment the boys were found. Turns out that their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, who led them on a hike into the cave when it flooded on June 23, trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach. According to multiple news sources, he taught the boys, ages 11 to 16, to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and preserve their energy through their two-week ordeal. — vox.com

Suppose two astronauts go to the moon. When they arrive, they have an accident and find out that they have only enough oxygen for two days. There is no hope of someone coming from Earth in time to rescue them. They have only two days to live. If you asked them at that moment, “What is your deepest wish?” they would answer, “To be back home walking on the beautiful planet Earth.” That would be enough for them; they would not want anything else. They would not want to be the head of a large corporation, a big celebrity or president of the United States. They would not want anything except to be back on Earth – to be walking on Earth, enjoying every step, listening to the sounds of nature and holding the hand of their beloved while contemplating the moon.

We should live every day like people who have just been rescued from the moon. We are on Earth now, and we need to enjoy walking on this precious beautiful planet. The Zen master Lin Chi said, “The miracle is not to walk on water but to walk on the Earth.” I cherish that teaching. I enjoy just walking, even in busy places like airports and railway stations. In walking like that, with each step caressing our Mother Earth, we can inspire other people to do the same. We can enjoy every minute of our lives. ― Thich Nhat Hanh

On Rescue

There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in. ― Desmond Tutu

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly … — Theodore Roosevelt

The game wardens have been walking in the rain all day, walking through the woods in the freezing rain trying to find your sister. They would have walked all day tomorrow, walked in the cold rain the rest of the week, searching for Betsy, so they could bring her home to you. And if there is one thing I am sure of—one thing I am very, very sure of, Dan—it is that God is not less kind, less committed, or less merciful than a Maine game warden. — Kate Braestrup

One person of integrity can make a difference. ― Elie Wiesel

Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills. — Leo Tolstoy

It runs through all our folklore, all human religions, all our literature–a racial conviction that when one human needs rescue, others should not count the price. ― Robert A. Heinlein

God uses rescued people to rescue people. — Christine Caine

Rescue the drowning and tie your shoestrings. — Henry David Thoreau

The greatest threat that I need to be rescued from is myself. Everything comes a lot easier after that. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

People rescue each other. They build shelters and community kitchens and ways to deal with lost children and eventually rebuild one way or another. — Rebecca Solnit

God is no White Knight who charges into the world to pluck us like distressed damsels from the jaws of dragons, or diseases. God chooses to become present to and through us. It is up to us to rescue one another. — Nancy Mairs

Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We’ll remember the moment the news came — where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever. — George W. Bush

When we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope–and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances … — John Newton

I, God, am in your midst. Whoever knows me can never fall. Not in the heights, nor in the depths, nor in the breadths. For I am love, which the vast expanses of evil can never still. – Hildegard of Bingen

For as soon as we have used an opportunity and have actualized a potential meaning, we have done so once and for all. We have rescued it into the past/…/, wherein nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. ― Viktor E. Frankl

On Water

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence. ― Kahlil Gibran

As it happens my own reverence for water has always taken the form of this constant meditation upon where the water is, of an obsessive interest not in the politics of water but in the waterworks themselves, in the movement of water through aqueducts and siphons and pumps and forebays and afterbays and weirs and drains, in plumbing on the grand scale. — Joan Didion

The water you kids were playing in, he said, had probably been to Africa and the North Pole. Genghis Khan or Saint Peter or even Jesus may have drunk it. Cleopatra might have bathed in it. Crazy Horse might have watered his pony with it. Sometimes water was liquid. Sometimes it was rock hard- ice. Sometimes it was soft- snow. Sometimes it was visible but weightless- clouds. And sometimes it was completely invisible- vapor- floating up into the the sky like the soals of dead people. There was nothing like water in the world, Jim said. It made the desert bloom but also turned rich bottomland into swamp. Without it we’d die, but it could also kill us, and that was why we loved it, even craved it, but also feared it. Never take water forgranted, Jim said. Always cherish it. Always beware of it. ― Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does. ― Margaret Atwood

The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective… it humbles you and makes you feel almost like you’ve been baptized. I feel born again when I get out of the ocean. ― Beyoncé

Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being. — Rumi

Commentary on Matthew 14: Walking on Water

See if you recognize yourself in this story: Because maybe some of us are like the ones in the boat who are afraid. Maybe you are so caught up in the fear of making the wrong decision that you can’t make any decision at all. Or maybe you are like the one experiencing the thrill of stepping into the unknown –  a new relationship or a new job or you’ve just moved to Denver leaving behind the familiar – and maybe the first few steps are ok but then it gets scary.  Or maybe you or the person next to you is the one who is sinking in debt or depression or maybe you feel like you’re sinking because what you could handle last month you just can’t handle now. Or maybe you’re the one who knows you’re doomed, knows that all your own efforts have failed and you are crying out to God to save you and you’re the ones who Jesus has reached down to catch and you’re clinging on to the sweet hand of Jesus with all you’ve got.  or maybe you’re the one in the boat looking in wonder all you’ve just seen… you’re the one who bears witness to the miracle and danger of it all and how the hand of God reaches down and pulls us up and you see it and can’t help but say “truly this is God.” At some point or other I know I have been all of the above … But all these characters in the walking on water story – the cautious ones in the boat, the brave one who walked for a time on water, the same one who is afraid and sinks and calls for help, and the ones who saw it all and confessed that Jesus is the son of God they are all actually equal in their relationship to God because…all of these and you have one thing in common: they are those whom Jesus draws near saying “it is I, do not be afraid”. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

This is a story about us in liminal space. Richard Rohr describes liminal space as: a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be, but where God is always leading us. It is when we have left the “tried and true” but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when we are finally out of the way. In liminal space, we do not yet know where to look. Should we strain our eyes to get a clearer view of what we can only trust is before us? Dare we risk looking away from what is around us that we can easily see and understand? It is hard not to doubt and be afraid when we are in-between. Liminal space is often associated with rituals of passage. Sacred moments of transition require big steps toward a new way that is not yet clear and not without risk. We enter liminal space when we take a step without knowing quite what the next step will be. Some of us dare to step out in faith, take big risks, change the course of our lives. Others are thrust into liminal space by forces beyond their control, such as a diagnosis, an injury, a storm, a death. Some are wondering what they have done. All they know is that the boat is drifting away behind them, the waves are all around them, and Jesus still seems far away. We are in liminal space when we are not sure we believe everything we have been told. When we have many questions we are afraid to ask. When we want to renew our grounding in faith, but we are overwhelmed with options. When we know we need something but not yet sure what that something will be. In the in-between, do we have any faith at all? Liminal space is scary, but full of potential. It deepens our love enabling us to love outside the lines. It reveals a whole another world outside the box. It gives us visions of other dimensions. Jesus welcomes Peter when he dares to step out of the boat. Jesus saves Peter when he loses focus on what is ahead of him and gets lost in what he knows is around him. When you are in liminal space, muster up your faith and take a bold step into the unknown. The worst that can happen is Jesus will save you; however, you may do the spectacular like walking on water. — James York

Maybe it wasn’t a boat. Maybe this story invites you to recall another life or death situation. You might not want to recall it. You don’t have to do so. You know you could go there. You could go to a time when you were lost in a boat in a storm in the dark, either literally or figuratively. The external situation can vary, but the internal feelings are real … You know that. Everyone knows the feeling of being battered by the winds in the dark. The circumstances differ but we all experience our unique storms. While the external events are unique, the internal feelings we share in common as human beings. Actually, it is the dark that binds us. Perhaps that is why there is a holiness about it. The holiness of shared experience. The dark contains a sacredness that invites us to learn to walk in it. — John Shuck

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