My son, who is 2 1/2 years old, was playing on the church grounds this morning and caught sight of the irrigation canal that runs along one side of the property. It is hardly a pristine body of water, a concrete trench about 5ft wide, but upon seeing it he gave a little gasp, sat down on the lawn and just stared at it, saying something like, "Oh, that is nice!" I think he's bound to be a boatman.
Something about moving water has that affect on some of us. It's what keeps people mesmerized with the waves at a beach, or transfixed at the edge of brook, or overwhelmed at the base of a waterfall. To be a boater is to be part of that mystery, to put oneself in the current, to feel the pull and play of the eddies, to acknowledge the hazards and to make the choices that the river inevitably presents. The creak of the oars, the soft splash of the blade, all part of the texture of the place, part of the flow, part of what helps wash out the stresses and concerns of the concrete world. A recurring baptism of the soul.
The boat taking shape in my garage, slowly, every so slowly, is an idea taking shape, it is a philosophy putting on flesh and form - it is a vehicle for taking one from the shore and into the current. It can allow my son to enter more fully into the experience that even his 2 1/2 year-old self senses is out there calling. So each saw kerf, each curl off the plane, each splinter in the thumb is part of giving that yearning an outlet, letting that desire find expression. And it just might end up being important.