It wasn’t an impressive boat when it was purchased in 1971.
All these decades later, it bore the scars of the hurricanes it survived and fishing trips it endured and children spotting alligators from its bow.
The battered metal leaked a bit and the beams that ran the short distance between starboard and port displayed stains and dents and faded stickers. The stern housed a small engine that had been replaced over the years with a bit more power but the cracked oars had survived.
We all piled into the aging hull as we do most weekends at the farm. Littles in life jackets, men with fishing nets and poles, and women with bug spray and juice boxes.
As we eased out of Long Mary Marsh, the little boat picked up speed and the bow tipped up out of the water. The chatter stopped and our breaths caught. The wind blew our hair wildly and the water splattered up the sides.
I closed my eyes. The wind rushed and water bounced. I could have been on a yacht. Except, I decided, this was better.
The blowing breezes cut the heat of the summer air and washed over us without any barrier. The littles dipped their fingers into the bayou waters as the men warned of ‘gators nipping near. We could explore small inlets and outlets and bayou fingers in a way impossible with a polished giant boat. As the motor cut to enter no wake zones, we could hear every sound from the sparrows to the cicadas to the splash of the mullet.
The tall marsh grasses swayed on either side as the water seeping into the grasses seeping into the sky made a seamless picture. A landscape only a Heavenly Artist could have drawn. A vision so spectacular that it stilled even the children. Everyone exhaled. The power of the bayou and untouched artistry surrounding us released the tension and hurry that normally arrest our city days.
The bayou boat moved on. The rows of lost cypress trees transformed into lush green richness dipping into the waters as we ventured out past the bridge. The family patriarch steered on and shouted out to the son, our young family’s patriarch, where to boy? He answered back, anywhere, because that was what we all felt. Steer us anywhere. Every turn brought more of the same – sounds and beauty and peace and an intimate connection to nature.
We went on that way for some time until we began to burn and the gas began to drain and the boat’s passengers reluctantly turned their faces toward the farm dock.
It is often the most battered and smallest boat that provides the rider the closest view of God. No such spiritual experience could have been had wrapped in a fancy yacht, insulated by lacquered surroundings high above the water.
The age and scars of the boat only proved its worth. It held long tenure in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast and survived to bring another generation of eyes out to the glory and greatness of the marsh grasses and pelicans and alligators and redfish and dead Cypress trees and crab traps.
Your vantage point may feel small or scarred or aged or inadequate, but it is through that lens that God can reveal His unfiltered beauty.