Charting A Course

By: Contributor Last Updated: October 16, 2009

Written by Jane Scupham, principal

I've been thinking about sailing quite a bit lately. Normally, this is my husband's realm of dreaming, not mine, but a number of events have brought sailing to mind. Last week my husband had our sailboat hauled out of the waters of Lake Michigan and put into winter storage, and now this week we celebrated Columbus Day. I love sailing on the blue waters of Lake Michigan, with the sun shining on my face, the wind filling the sails, and the boat gliding effortlessly through the water. It's a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. Now, I grew up a landlubber knowing only the water in my backyard swimming pool. My husband's father, who's an old salt from childhood, took me sailing for the first time nearly thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. But to sail into uncharted waters is not for the faint of heart. Wind, weather, and wave can be fickle things. The beauty of open waters can quickly change into something that is dark and powerfully menacing when the weather switches around. I marvel at the bravery and sheer will that Christopher Columbus must have had to voyage into the unknown in search of a new route to the Indies. To sail without the benefit of charts, GPS, and without the certainty of knowing the outcome is a testament to faith.

As parents, we send our children out on the seas of life. We try to give them the knowledge we've collected on our "charts," but these aren't always used or welcomed. We provide them with a GPS of faith that we recharge every week when we go to church. We set them out to explore their abilities in academics, sports, and the arts. Many times we would like to call them back to the safety of the shore, our homes and loving arms. But in order for them to feel the exhilaration of the boat slicing through the waves, the accomplishments of skippering the boat themselves, we must let them set their own sails and chart their own courses.

"A ship in harbor is safe-but that is not what ships are made for."

-John A. Shedd, American author and professor