I've been thinking about the boat analogy a lot this week. And I've started to think of it like this. The boat is just the same as a cruise. We walk on this huge, intimidating boat full of facades and seeming perfection. We hurry and grab all our bags and pretend like we have it all together. Just like every vacation or trip you pack the things you may need. This packing includes things to help you get from one destination to another. This is exactly like life. Life is a boat. We carry baggage from one place to the next. Sometimes we only want to carry our perfect, happy suitcases. We bring and show our facade filled suitacses to the boat while we secretly carry in our other baggage. Our baggage of shame and guilt, of hoplessness and pain, of worry and doubt, of brokenness. We try to carry that baggage on our own. When someone offers to help us carry it we often say, "Oh no, I've got it". We're scared of showing the inside of the baggage. But the beautiful thing about the boat and the people on the boat is that we're TOGETHER. Our boats are not generalized or separated. There is one boat that we're on together. We may try to divide and say that boat is for "you" and that boat is for "them" but realistically this world is one and we're all in it together. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. Like The Jonas Brothers coming back in concert good news (still praying that happens by the way), because when we come together in a real and vulnerable way, our boat is no longer scary, intimidating and lonely. When we realize that we're on this boat together, there's community created. When we open that suitcase of pain or loneliness to the world and to the members on the boat we find healing. When we step out of our safe hotel room on the boat and into the lobby of the boat, we find that it's okay. It's safe there. People are people and that means we all struggle and carry baggage. But, we're all together sharing and we're a real community. Then the happiness part starts, and this is exciting stuff!! We start dancing in the ballrooms together, we start filling up tables and eating together, we laugh together and we just are TOGEHTER. This mental image is too beautiful for me to handle-it reminds me of the scene in the Titanic when they're all dancing so happily in the basement. THAT CAN BE OUR LIVES PEOPLE. We can get on the boat together and stop pretending. We can open our hurting suitcases, we can share the load and we can ride the boat together.
Peter left a realm that he was comfortable in, he left a situation, a group of people that he trusted and he began to walk to where it was unsteady. He walked and got out of his "safety boat" to enter a boat of another. THIS is what we're called to do. We're called to jump in another boat and to extend our boat from just being "ours". We're called to be together with people through every single stage of life. We cry with people so that we can dance with people. This boat is not exclusive or facade filled. I get this beautiful image of all people walking up a ramp onto this love-filled, genuine boat full of hurting, broken, tired, encouraged, love-filled people. And guess what? That's all of us. We're all hurting, broken, tired and joy-filled and love-filled at the same time. That's the power of community in fact. We're all experiencing the highs and lows of life and we can meet people in those feelings. Rather than being a community who pretends to be okay and sympathizes, let's be a community whose realness changes this world.
Then just like most vacations, you bring back a souveneir or something to remind you of your trip. Our boat called "life" offers the same. Once we open these suitcases, we refill them with healing and joy. Just like a keychain from another place reminds us of where we've been, opening and sharing our baggage allows healing and a piece of joy to enter. We sit and we reminisce and we feel and we grow. We allow healing through love and vulnerability. We start to fill suitcases with love and joy and we start to send those home with people. Your community, your boat is still here.
Let's get on the boat in a real, radical way. Let's carry each other's baggage and let's welcome all to the boat. The bruised, beaten, broken and bound, they're welcomed. You're welcomed, I'm welcomed and he/she/they are welcomed. Labels are not welcomed, generalizations are not welcomed, stereotypes and expectations are not welcomed. Let's refill our suitcases with keychains and new t-shirts. Let's refill our hearts with community and love and be on this boat together.
Get on the boat....TOGETHER.