Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Breaking the surface

Dalton and I watched a good movie last night. We watched "A Perfect Storm" together. * For anyone who hasn't seen it and wants to WARNING ** this is a spoiler - stop reading now.
It's the true story about a crew of sword fisherman from Maine who've had a run of bad luck on the sea. They set out for their last trip of the season and it's make it or break it time. For some of them not hitting the fish will mean loss of mortgage or visitation with their children. These are hard working guys who have been at it for a very long time for very little pay. They kiss their women and children and head out to the water floating away on promises of better times ahead. Finally after pulling up empty hooks and staring at freezers full of ice with no fish to chill they take a risk and head further out to sea. This turns out to be a lucrative choice. They hit fish and they hit fish big. With freezers full they steam back to shore anxious to "set the market" and greet their families with fistfuls of cash and hearts full of love. What they don't know is that 3 major weather systems have begun to collide right in the middle of their path home and it has all added up to "the Perfect Storm" the like of which hasn't been seen in 100 years. The story ends in tragedy. The movie theorizes that each man says his goodbyes while gasping the last pockets of air from the upturned hull of the ship. Two men, the lead roles of the story, are not so much trapped in the ship as they are assigned to their fate. The captain and his first mate of sorts decide to swim for the surface and ride the waves to their death, but at the last minute the captain decides to recede back into the dark confines of his cabin and go down with his ship.
At eleven years old this gave Dalton much to ponder as he lay in bed last night. He lazily tripped down the stairs this morning and took a seat on the last step. Rubbing his eyes he looked up at me and without so much as a "goodmorning, mom" and just muttered "I hate that 'Skipper' didn't even try to live."
I was struck by the fact that Dalton seemed to miss the obvious. These men were all going to die no matter what choices they made at this point and they knew it. It was clear to them that their location in the heart of a storm that had taken out 2 rescue helicopters and a navy ship in the middle of the ocean they would not be saved. Rogue waves that would dwarf the skyscrapers that dotted the shore line so many miles away had tossed their ship end over end and those who weren't trapped in the ship's watery grave would be drown by it's angy currents and destructive force were they to swim from the ship's confines.
"Dalton," I tried to explain. "He wasn't giving up he just knew that they were all going to die either way."
"Well," he answered simply. "I wish he would have tried."
I realized then that at eleven years old not only is everything and anything possible but almost everything is also worth trying. Life hasn't taught you to fear just yet. An eleven year old heart won't be assigned to a fate, it only sees possiblities.
How often do we as adults let what we believe has been our assigned fate keep us from trying? How often do we size up the situation and deem it hopeless instead of seeing the incredible possiblities? Like these men we've set out to do what we've been assigned to do and come back empty handed too many times. Even our victories are held in check as we anticipate the storm that most certainly waits to take it all away again.
The Glouster fisherman's story is one that ends tragically; and I'm certain that no amount of positive thinking would have saved these men, but that's not really the point for Dalton. The point is that the captain of the ship gave up. There's no redemption there. The best the movie version offers is that the memory of the men live on their loved ones. But we know something more. We have something greater.
I got to be reminded today that swimming for the surface isn't after all an effort in futility. In fact it's an action that says hope is alive. I don't expect to be saved from the storm but I'm not ruling it out either. I don't know what God has planned once I break the surface but I know I want to be here to find out. For Bobby, the moment he sees his surroundings he knows he's still not going to make it but you get the sense that at least he's thankful that he's not trapped anymore.
We all have storms in our lives. And sometimes it seems we're destined to go down with the ship but I think it's important to remember that something waits on the surface of the water. And I don't want to miss that moment when I break through. I don't know what God has planned for the moment after my lungs fill with air but I do know that I don't want to be trapped by my own perception of my fate. I'm bobbing along on the surface of hope ready to face whatever comes next. Rescue or no rescue I want my own childlike heart to be found on the surface... not in the depths.

Thanks Tierney for the encouragement. It felt good to write again:)


patty said...

thanks...I wish i could go back & relive my 11 year old attitudes.

favmom said...

I've been waiting for another entry. Remember that breaking the surface, while sometimes being futile, can also clearly show the amazing possibilities that lie ahead.

janelle said...

Just last weekend I (re)watched Facing the Giants; the message that I take from that movie over and over again is stated in the locker room after the big win. " tell me - is anything impossible with God?"

I wish I could say that I always believe that - the truth is, I don't know if I do - I mean, if I REALLY do.

I've been praying about that a lot, along with laying everything down - asking God to show me how to believe and to surrender. Like and 11 year old would.