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3003780050_0af83ca41d_mI compare our journeys of leaving the church, or changing our minds, or deconstructing our faith, to taking a canoe down a river.

  • Sometimes there are very smooth times when you hardly even have to paddle. All you have to do is keep your paddle in the water and make sure you don’t hit the shore or rocks. These are very easy and even relaxing times where you can enjoy the ride. You feel yourself moving at a comfortable and peaceful pace and you can even enjoy the scenery. I would characterize these times as potentially happy.
  • Sometimes there are rapids where, again, you don’t have to paddle. You still have to keep your paddle in the water to avoid damaging your vessel or yourself. This is a time when things happen very fast and furious. There doesn’t seem to be any time to take in the scenery. It’s all about survival. I would characterize these times as a mixture of excitement and fear.
  • Sometimes there are doldrums when nothing at all is happening on its own but requires you to put in all the effort to get anywhere. Everything feels dead. You’d love to enjoy the scenery but you can’t just because you’re working so friggin’ hard. Oh, you know you could do nothing and just sit there forever. And sometimes you do. But, realizing you could die here, you put your paddle in the water, engage your muscles, and push yourself forward. I would characterize these times as boring.
  • Sometimes there are places you have to portage. This is just plain old hard work where you have to drag your canoe out of the water and carry it with all your gear usually through very rugged terrain. These are the times when you wonder what the heck you’re doing out of your environment and sweating bullets and exposing yourself to the wild beasts. I would characterize these times as meaningless and frustrating.
  • Sometimes you fall in. Either you do something foolish like try to stand up or you hit a rock or a log or water-log the canoe and you’re done. It’s always an accident. When I took canoe training, one of the things I had to learn was how to right a canoe in water over my head in depth. It’s hard work. Then drying everything out. I would characterize these times as dangerous.
  • Sometimes you are canoeing all alone. No one else is with you and you have no idea if you’re doing it right or not. There’s no one to talk to. No one to encourage you. No one to listen to your woes or joys. No one who even cares. I would characterize these times as very lonely.
  • Sometimes you’re canoeing with another person or two in the same canoe. At times there is fun or deep and meaningful conversation. Other times there is confusing, irritating and annoying exchanges. At times you’re glad for the company and other times you’d like to throw them overboard. I would characterize these times as either delightful or aggravating.

I’ll tell you how I like to do canoe trips.

I like to have my own canoe, but I like to meet up with other canoeists with their own canoes when I want. This is how I integrate my introverted and extroverted self. Of course, I am aware that sometimes I have no choice in the matter. Sometimes I just find myself very alone. At other times I suddenly find myself surrounded with other canoes.

This is why I like TLS. This is how it feels to me. I feel like we are all in our own canoes making our own trips, but that we have the privilege of meeting up with others who are on the same kind of river. Before TLS, I often felt like I was the only living soul on the whole river. Since I started TLS and we are almost at 400 members, I now know there are many others on the same river and they are my companions. When we collect, and maybe even when we stop and sit around the campfire, we can share our stories and feel reinvigorated for the next day.

What’s cool to know though, is that I’m not going nowhere. The river is taking me somewhere. While for me the river is the destination, it is also a way. I’m taking in every minute of it now, but I also feel, deep down, that I’m being taken to a more wonderful place somehow and that I’m going to be a better person for it.

I’m glad you’re on the same river with me guys.

See you at the next campfire!

Happy paddling!