Maryland is full of sailors. Our state mingles with the Atlantic on our eastern border and is split almost in two by the rich estuary called the Chesapeake Bay. Fingering off The Bay are practically countless rivers, large and small. Even if you don’t sail it’s hard to ignore the masts and sails and seafood restaurants and sailing lore that litter the area. Though many of us love the winter and snow (I do) we anticipate warm spring days when we can get back to the water. We walk the edge. We watch from the bridges. We eye the thermometer. We crave the sun.
And while we wait marinas sit, lonely, full of boats ‘on the hard’.
I am new to sailing. Truly a novice. I learn the terms and rules reluctantly. Don’t get me wrong, I love the water, sun and wind, too, yet learning it all is slow for me. But this winter the sailing term ‘on the hard’ is taking on new meaning.
Yesterday we visited the marina to check on our sailboat, the little Ilsa Marin. This winter she stays in the water and we check her now and then, but many of the boats are out of the water for the winter. They sit on the pavement propped up on jacks. Stable. But out of the water.
To drive through a marina on a sunless winter day feels sad. Expensive sailboats and motor boats sit useless. They wait to be scraped and painted. They wait to have repairs done. They wait. On the Hard. If I may continue to anthropomorphize them, they are dejected. Lonely. And they wait. Boats are not meant to sit out of the water.
This has been a difficult winter for my family and many of our friends. We have experienced loss. We have experienced grief. We have experienced difficulties. The troubles wash over one after another until the world, and life, feel hard and prickly. We struggle to find a place of comfort. We have watched loved ones and dear friends grieve, and hurt, and recovery appears impossible. For many health is illusive and finances are difficult. Life is hard. We miss joy. We thirst for water.
We wait and as we wait we feel we are being handled roughly. We are tattered. Sails need stitching. Hulls require scraping, painting. It is long tedious work. Are these repairs that must be made? Is it necessary upkeep to maintain seaworthiness? I don’t know. I know that On the Hard is not the preferred place for boats or people.
It is hard to remember untroubled days. We echo the Psalmists words, “My spirit is overwhelmed within me: My heart within me is distressed.” (Psalm 143:4)
We long for past joys. (Psalm 143:5)
We thirst for peace. (Psalm 143:6)
We wait. (Psalm 27:14)
While we wait, we trust that this time on the hard is temporary, and that we will find it has been worthwhile. (2 Corinthians 4: 17) We hope the result is to be more seaworthy. Not more worthy, but more able.
We trust a great God who is our Help. He is our Shield. He loves us. (Psalm 77:13, Psalm 59:10)
And we will continue to hope. (Psalm 33:20)
To my friends and family who are experiencing life On the Hard: We are too, and we seek and hope with you. We are praying.
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