On a Pray and Paddle we often paddle in communal silence. We believe that in shared silence we create space to open up to that Eternal Source whose name is infinite (i.e. Creator, Spirit, God). There is something elemental about being in rhythm with the distinct ecosystem of an ocean, estuary, river or lake. Each body of water has its own unique story to tell.
Martin Luther once said: "Every reed moving with the wind, every song of a bird, every movement of the tide are little words from the Creator'. Little words being spoken to and for us. Reminding us that we are not alone, that we belong to a community greater than oneself.
On the water we are invited to immerse ourself in the sounds, beauty and wisdom of the natural world. To move from observer to participant in the ecosystem itself. And, while I enjoy paddling alone, I also enjoy sharing in the experience with others. Oftentimes in community I find that I am able to focus more intently, to immerse myself more deeply, in those places I'm paddling.
In the company of other paddlers, there is a shared commitment to immerse oneself more deeply in silence. It is this silence which fosters a place of meeting. With this heightened awareness, we notice more and become connected more deeply to the movement of water, connected to the plants, fish, insects and plants.
Truly I'm in good company with Nature and in good company with those I share the experience with.
Thankfully too, being in community isn't always about being quiet. It is also about sharing what we notice, being 'wowed' together. It's about laughing and looking and being curious together!
Recently I paddled with my buddy Clyde (pictured looking toward the Newport Bridge), who has been my great friend since we were twelve. We launched from a beach on the edge of the harbor in Newport, Rhode Island. Paddling ahead of the wind (which promised to gust in a few hours time), we paddled by Fort Adams, a fortification going back to the War of 1812, and now the site of the legendary Newport Folk and Jazz festivals.
Gauging the wind and with a narrow window of time, we paddled hard across a mile wide expanse of open water, toward Rose Island. We moved through waves and troughs churned up by passing boats.
Once landed, we stretched our legs while staying clear of a beach closed for the nesting of Piping Plovers, Oystercatchers and other shore birds. Just a mile off shore, Rose Island is a world away. A place to savor the beauty and complexity of our natural world.
Soon the promised winds began to gust and we hurridly made our way back to the safety of the harbor. In that busy port our kayaks were dwarfed by a mix of hard working fishing boats and over the top 'luxury yachts'. In that busy setting we found safe refuge a the Newport Maritime Center. There we pulled our kayaks up on a beach (public access) and set off to scout for a sandwich and a cold beer.
Nothing better than good company on and off the water.
This summer I wish you good paddling. May you too be graced with the beauty of creation and the company of good friends. Paddle well.
With you on the journey ~ Kent Harrop