Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Building Boats and Going Great Places (and why our boats often never set sail)

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

I'm guilty of it.

In my mothering, in my teaching, in my writing, in my work, even in my marriage, I'm constantly trying to drum up other people to come together, collect wood all while handing out instructions on how to build whatever boat I'm trying to set sail.

Some days the only boat I'm trying to set sail is the one that leaves on time with book bags, tea and laptops in hand ready to weather the rough waters of traffic so we arrive promptly at school/co-op/work meetings

and other days the boat I'm try to build and launch looks more like the one where my husband and I are simply on the same deck sailing into the endless waters of molding our hooligan boys into loving, strong and passionate men

and other days I'm trying to construct a crew big enough to build a ship of some sorts that can charter the mysterious and beautiful and hard waters of orphan care.

Whatever it is, you know, daily we're all building boats that we intend to get us somewhere.

In each of our respective boat buildings, one thing is certain: none of us can do it alone, and we find we really need others to get on board, throw in their hammers, build steadily and then jump onto the boat and set sail.

Here's what I have realized about building ships, though: if you pay or reward someone enough, they'll do the hard work of building the ship. They'll put in the sweat, tears and long hours of laboring over its detailed construction.

But oftentimes, when it comes to building these boats to really big, really wonderful, really vast and unknown places, I've found I can't offer enough of a reason to start building because I cannot explain the reward adequately enough to get the crew started or keep the workers motivated.

So the problem of building a boat really isn't about the actual building of the boat; the problem with building a boat to somewhere great and unknown is a problem of adequately building a vision of where we're going so that anyone wants to invest time and effort into the boat building.

I run into this while trying to construct all of these various boats I'm building.

Have you ever tried to explain the beauty of the ocean to someone who's never experienced it with his or her own eyes?

It's really hard.

Photo by Hyacynth Worth. All rights reserved.
We try our best to explain the way sand softly gives beneath the weight of toes, the lulling sound of ocean waves careening into the beach, the clean scent of soft ocean breezes, the brilliant blue hues of of water sparkling beneath sun.

When all is said, when all has been explained as best as humanly possible, there's just no way to help someone understand the vastness of the sea. The only way to teach someone to long for the sea is to cast a vision of its vastness, it's beauty, its greatness or, if you possibly can, show them the sea.

It's then, and only then, that we can start giving building instructions and impressing upon our builders' hearts and minds the need for following the rules of construction. The passion, the desire, the vision almost always proceeds the building.

I'm learning to apply this in all of my various boat-building efforts.

I'm learning to cast a vision of what could be in store for my children in their futures should they walk with the Lord, trusting Him and committing their ways to Him.

I'm learning to help my children dream of the beauty of marriages founded on love, respect, trust and compassion.

I'm learning to share the dreams and visions in my heart with my husband for how our lives could look in 15 years in we follow steadily the passions God's laid on our hearts.

And I'm learning to share as authentically as I can what happens in the aftermath of taking leaps of faith in the direction God is moving us.

While building the boat is entirely important and carefully constructing it is paramount to success, we never even get off the shore if we don't first cast the vision.

We never even have a chance of setting sail, if first, we don't show them the beauty and vastness of the sea and teach the ones we love to long for it.

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