As the world around me shifts unpredictably (and my heart falls and rises along with it), there is still something firm and steadfast, something unchanging and reliable, to turn my eyes to. The shifting challenges around me are not the whole story of reality. In the Psalms, King David followed the same advice for himself that the fisherman gave me in the boat.
Evidently I don’t have a strong stomach, because the last time I went fishing at sea I got sick. I know fishing trips are famous for being exaggerated, but I’ll be honest with you: there was no storm. It was a normal day, with normal waves, and we didn’t even go far out to sea. Still, as the boat continually shifted, my insides rebelled against me in slow motion. It was getting harder and harder to focus on my fishing line or the conversation going on around me. I felt bad. All I wanted was for the floor to stop moving—was that so much to ask? Thankfully, I was with an experienced fisherman who gave me helpful advice: “Look at the shore,” he said, “it will give you a reference point, and help you be able to roll with the waves.” I could tell he knew what he was talking about, because he had no trouble at all moving confidently around the constantly rocking boat.
For the rest of the trip, I took his advice and became quite familiar with the unchanging coastline near us. Did it help? Yes. There’s no doubt that I felt better. Then again, “better” is a relative term, and I wouldn’t go nearly so far as saying I felt good. Stepping off that boat at the end of the day onto real, firm, solid ground was a relief, even though it took my stomach a while to catch up with my feet.
A lot of time has passed since that fishing trip, but recently I’ve had the awful feeling again, even as I stand on the ground. Much of what felt solid about the world around me is now rolling in unexpected directions. Things that were stable and secure my whole life have become unpredictable and unreliable. The waves of this pandemic have thrown the world off balance. Add to that a variety of recent political scandals and the reality of Brexit, and the uncertainty increases for Ireland, my home.