When the pandemic started, there was a saying going around, a cliché that goes “we’re all in the same boat.” Except we’re not, and it wasn’t long before someone pointed out that’s not true. It’s often attributed to a tweet from Damien Barr that’s part of a longer poem, but the popular social media meme became “we are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm.”
I wonder if Jesus’ disciples were thinking of that when they got stuck in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. In Mark’s account, Jesus had been talking to a crowd of people and, that evening, he gets in a boat with the disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. And there are other boats that follow with them. Tired from a long day, Jesus is asleep when the storm comes up. Fearing for their lives, the disciples wake him, he calms the storm and then says to them “why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And the disciples are amazed and wonder just who this is, that the wind and sea do what he says.
Yes, we appreciate this is a miracle story in which Jesus demonstrates his power. The disciples ask for help and Jesus rescues them. And maybe there’s another way of understanding that power, another perspective on the story.
Some of Jesus disciples are professional fishermen, this is the lake they fish. They might well have been afraid, but they would have known what to do. What if they woke Jesus because they needed help, but the help they expected was an extra pair of hands.
What if Jesus inspired them with his energy and enthusiasm and, despite his lack of skill with a boat, inspired them to ride the waves and harness the storm to drive forward for the shore on the other side.
What if their lack of faith was in themselves. Not just in their human abilities, but in the divine spirit that Jesus shows us in each of us.
What if their amazement was that Jesus, in any situation, seems to be mindful of what’s happening, what’s needed and is willing to do that.
What if the real power in this miracle isn’t Jesus’ power over nature, but Jesus’ power with the disciples to draw out the spirit within them, the very spirit that is part of our human nature, the spirit that drives our journey.
What if the people in the other boats witnessed that and followed their example, a flotilla of diverse lives navigating their own course, but empowered by the same spirit.
Isn’t that what we are?
I don’t think that “explains away” the miracle. It’s no less a miracle to know that God is present in our lives because God is within us, not just outside of us. It’s no less a miracle to see God leading us and guiding us, working within us and around us, rather than as some remote, inaccessible power that we call upon when we need. It’s no less a miracle to see this happening every day, whether the seas are rough or calm, the wind a gale or a breeze. It’s no less a miracle, it’s more.