on the Fraser in 1982

Over the past week, everywhere I go and nearly everyone I speak to, canoeing has become part of the conversation. On Saturday, both canoeing and pilgrimage were in view.

Yesterday I read in “My Utmost for His Highest.”

“When any duty presents itself we hear God’s voice as our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him. Jesus Christ expects to do with us as His Father did with Him. he can put us where He likes, in pleasant or in mean duties, because the union is that of the Father and Himself.”

The sense of being on a journey, and waiting for the next ticket on an unknown train, has continued with us. We are not our own, and we wait for God’s assignment. It may be large or small. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we bring joy to God’s heart and further His purposes in the world. It may be ecclesial; it may not. God has His servants working in the walls of the church and without, and some work in both places. But I have felt that our season working in the walls to bring change will continue.

As for canoeing and paddles, I was handed an old hand-made paddle this past Saturday, one I built in the summer of 1979 and that came with me, and with my family, on many trips in many places. At table with friends on Tuesday evening, an elderly friend reminded me that he had spent some time with the great Canadian canoe master Bill Mason. Bill’s home and journeys were mostly in Ontario, and a well-known CBC production tells that story, “Path of the Paddle.” A later film was made with a theme song specially written by Bruce Cockburn, “Water-Walker,” the double entendre quite clear.

Many who read this will know that for the ancient Celts, the wild goose was the symbol of the Spirit. This Canadian folk song captures the sense of pilgrimage :

My paddles clean and bright,
Flashing with silver,
Follow the wild-goose flight,
Dip, dip and swing..

As for “Water-Walker,” here is the first quatrain of the song written for the 1985 film by Bruce Cockburn.

Accept the gift of circumstance
No more careful stepping plans
Everything holds out its hand
Gonna hold you up and love you
Gonna hold you up and love you
Waterwalker

A short review of “Water-Walker” here.