I realize we are well into Ordinary Time now, on our way to Lent, but the time since my last post has been very full, as someone at my house has recently had surgery and recovery has taken some time longer than expected! Also, I think reflecting on a journey just completed, (not just the physical journey we had, but the Advent/Christmas journey so recently completed), informs any journey, so with Lent approaching, I think there is still value in talking about Advent. With that in mind. . .
Advent is a journey, a spiritual journey. As I mentioned in my previous post, our pre-Advent cruise this year was like Advent’s Advent for me. On November 11, Barry and I boarded a sailing ship for our very first cruise. We were complete noobs! We had no idea what it was going to be like living in an enclosed space like that with several hundred other people. We had no idea where we were going, other than across the Atlantic. We had no idea what the weather would be like. We had no idea how much we would feel the waves. We had no idea what food we would eat, what people we would meet, what things we would learn, how we would feel. And yet. And yet I was never afraid.
We sailed on the Wind Surf, a beautiful five-masted, 613 foot sailing schooner. It’s the biggest boat I’ve ever been on. But, it’s one of the smallest cruise ships to make the transatlantic crossing. And yet I was never afraid. Why? How could I climb aboard this relatively dinky vessel and commit myself to the seas? Because we had an excellent captain and crew. Captain Hogan greeted each passenger as they boarded, shaking each hand, despite the bucketing rain. The crew demonstrated from the first moment that they knew what they were doing, handing out umbrellas, directing people where to go, smiling, welcoming. They put us at ease immediately.
The Wind Surf, along with all Windstar ships, has an open bridge policy. That is, any time of day or night, as long as the ship is not navigating into or out of port, any guest may visit the bridge. Guests are not only allowed, but are encouraged to visit the bridge, ask questions, engage with the crew. And on such a small ship, it’s not just the bridge that is open and visible. Many of the workings of the ship are open to observation. We saw repairs being done to the swimming pool, painting being done, preparations for weighing anchor, and once, all the effort needed to get an anchor unstuck. We had a tour of the galley and all the food preparation and delivery areas. We talked to crew members about their life at sea.
What does all this have to do with Advent?! I’m glad you asked! As a journey, Advent requires skilled guides. I was not afraid on board our little ship because we had skilled navigators and crew members who worked around the clock to ensure our safety. Our captain had been sailing ships for more than 30 years. Crew members had been working on ships for many years. We could entrust ourselves to their expertise. Advent requires skilled guides. As a spiritual journey it can be confusing and sometimes even scary. Having someone alongside who has made the journey before brings joy where there could be anxiety, learning where there could be anger, and wonder where there could be shut-down. I have made the Advent journey for several years with skilled guides and I am so grateful that, like our crew, they greet me every time with umbrellas, directions, and smiles. I can embark my Advent journey this year and every year with my guides knowing I am safe whatever comes.
Photo: Wind Surf Bridge with Third Mate Tom – Heather Holtslander