Work, Rest, Refresh, Connect… in Rhythm with Life

The Vashon Island ferry dock: Vehicles wait to board for Southworth and West Seattle. Mount Baker graces the horizon.

Summer beckons and we are being teased with a return to Life. Few of us seem so foolish as to expect some fabled return to Life as We Know It. Life known is no life at all and what life we thought we knew before two winters ago is now a fantasy long gone, if ever it existed.

This morning I am witness to the rhythms of Puget Sound. Even on this calm inland estuary life takes its own course. Those who are always rushing to make the next ferry have never left the City. Watch the Ferryman. (Please grant me license from adherence to the correctness of the times. “Ferryman” just feels more poetic than any more correct term which comes to mind this early in the morning.) But watch them. They are not just “on the clock,” they are rather on the Clock. They are not just minding a strenuously negotiated union contract or some arduously calculated OSHA guidelines, they are pacing themselves according to larger rhythms, rhythms which may accommodate, for a moment, the rushing commuter or anxious vacationer, but most often gracefully and with the smile that follows a different reality.

Work, Rest, Refresh, Connect. These words presented themselves to me yesterday as I contemplated what this little retreat might mean to me over the coming weeks and months and years. In my typical ignorance I first greeted these with some misgiving as I dressed each up in the compulsive costumes of ideals and goals. But the Ferryman teaches me that the Rhythms of Life are not inherently distinct, rigid, demanding. These are not words so much as connotations, the rather more greedy stuff which once drove us from the Garden. These are Attitudes, not Life, much less Love.

The pace of the Ferryman embraces a sabbath rest between each step of work. The hand rests on the rail before the push. The foot rests on the gangway before the kick. The mooring rope rests lightly in the hand before it is pulled across the cleat. The salt air refreshes as the Ferryman works to connect, and in turn is connected with, shore and shore and person and person, Love and Life. Each all happen in rhythm and all in turn happens all at once together.

All are gift. All are Grace. Nothing of Life, nothing of this existence, demands. All is freely offered and may be gently plucked by us at any moment from the Tree of Life and savored for the eternity of that moment, but never violently charged at or greedily hoarded for some fabled future moment.

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