The Revelation of Being Among Friends
On a cruise, there’s something about a day at sea that has this amazing impact on my ability to relax. You’re between destinations. You have these immense, open spaces on your itinerary. Like a blank page in your favorite journal, the day is completely unwritten. You can fill it up however you wish. That kind of freedom and peace is so refreshing.
Yesterday, with St. Maarten behind us and Half Moon Cay ahead of us, was one of those days. I woke up with literally no plans until our dinner seating and worship session with Kathy Troccoli. A week ago I’d get out of bed with 15 things staring me in the face, from preparing breakfast to sending the kids off to school before tackling a half-dozen errands. You wake up and the pressure starts immediately. But yesterday I woke up…and went right back to sleep.
Eventually I got up. The sun shone bright through my cabin’s balcony door. I got dressed (yoga pants, t-shirt, flip-flops), pulled my hair back, grabbed my Bible, scooted to the Observation Deck for some coffee, and made my way to a secluded corner with a clear ocean view. OUR corner.
Rachel was already there, along with Lisa—who was (of course) in the middle of downing her second cup of coffee. I plopped into one of those padded deck chairs I’ve already grown to love. They were just taking in the stunning blue of the water. Have you ever just stared at the way water moves out on the open ocean? I let the wind ripple my ponytail, let the fresh air fill my lungs, and let the coffee do its work.
Lisa found her way to Psalm 33:7–8, which she read aloud: “He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.” We sat there, just the three of us, quietly watching the rising and falling of the blue expanse, knowing that our Creator had gathered those waters together in that place…had invented that deep, rich Caribbean blue that stretched all the way to the horizon.
Rachel mentioned something that’s still running through my mind today: how, like the “waters of the sea,” maybe God had gathered US into this place, too, even if just for these few days. (Lisa’s classic reply: “So you’re saying this giant ship is our jar?”) The three of us have been friends forever and we’ve got amazing families back home. But we talked about how the simple decision to seclude ourselves on this ship for a few days could have a major ripple effect once we get home. The break recharges our friendship, deepening that bond between us like the deep waters of the ocean. Not only that, it renews us as individuals, giving us a strength and determination to draw from as we return in a couple days to our “real lives.”
Then we laughed about how, of course, everything that happens here on the Westerdam is “real life,” too. But the best vacations leave you with that before-and-after feeling. They don’t just let you escape from your daily life and leave it at that. They recharge your spirit so you can return a better, fuller person. I’m hoping that’s why God gathered us here: to renew the bond between us as friends, and to use that renewal to strengthen every relationship waiting for us when we got home—with our husbands, with our kids, with everyone.
Anyway, the whole day was charged with that kind of reflective atmosphere. The three of us spent almost every hour together. A leisurely breakfast, followed by a few laps walking around the Promenade deck, followed by—well, a lot of sitting and talking and reading and people-watching. But mostly it was a day spent at peace. So many hours during which God felt present among the three of us. “Where two or three are gathered in His name,” right? But since this is a Christian cruise, it’s so much more than just the three of us. It includes hundreds more, all of us learning together, worshiping with Kathy, experiencing this wonderful atmosphere as the body of Christ—a floating, sun-drenched community of believers! The kinship and experience of this kind of Christian travel is a new one for me, but something I simply have to do more of.
I expect yesterday to be one of those experiences of God’s presence that I’ll remember for a long, long time. I’ll definitely be sharing that second day at sea as a trip highlight when we get back. I can anticipate the response: Did you really need to travel all the way to the Caribbean in order to rediscover God’s presence? A valid question, I guess. After all, God is always present, everywhere. He’s just as accessible in my kitchen as He is on an Observation Deck somewhere in the Eastern Caribbean. But sometimes the noise of our daily lives tends to drown out His still, small voice.
Out here, I heard that voice loud and clear, surrounded by so much beauty, accompanied by friends who share my faith, and while enjoying one of the most relaxing days I’ve had in years. For that reason alone, this trip is one I won’t soon forget.