Sitting on the balcony of our hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River just after dawn on vacation last summer I saw first a large freighter glide through the water, motor giving off a low rumble and some gently lapping waves in its wake. Shortly after that a small motor boat zipped by, the loudness of its motor and the violence of the waves in its wake in sharp contrast to both the quiet of the early hour and what was left by the tanker. In my notes that day I wrote the following sentence: “The smallest vessels leave the biggest wake.” I find this is often true when I think about life events.
Those gentle wakes left by the big events of life are long lasting and change the course we are taking on the journey. Something such as getting married is like a big freighter with low rumbling motor staying steady in its trip down river toward the ocean, surviving the rains and winds of life, and occasionally being rocked by the wake of the smaller, faster boats. Still, it’s steady and true in its movements. The smaller craft, with their noisy motors and erratic movements in comparison demand immediate attention. Things such as illnesses, children, job losses, and even holidays are like those smaller vessels. They demand attention; they make the waters choppy and harder to navigate. Too many of them at one time can threaten to sink a larger ship if the captain and crew aren’t attentive.
By far the smallest vessels in my life are my children. They both produced the largest wakes and have changed the course of our voyage; we have nearly been knocked off course by their wakes many times. One speeds ahead, cutting in and out of our path, while the other simply runs alongside, keeping us constantly aware of her presence. They have both escorted us to places we would never have thought to go, but which turned out to be the most interesting and growth inducing.
Inspiration comes from many places, and notes written on a summer vacation, forgotten then found on a cold spring Saturday morning can inspire some deep thought. Like a pebble in a puddle, or a small vessel early in the day on a quiet river.