Reflections on the Water by Perry Dixon

Written by Perry Dixon, Highland’s Summer Youth Ministry Intern, following Passport Youth Camp

In writing Works of Love, Soren Kierkegaard uses the imagery of water to describe the source and fruition of Christian love. Though water imagery is quite familiar within the Baptist tradition, Kierkegaard’s words are particularly poignant. He writes that just as tiny hidden streams trickle to feed a great lake, so too God’s love wells up within the individual to eventually overflow into action. As the title of his book suggests, Kierkegaard addresses how the love of God might powerfully transform the individual during her everyday life. One must wonder what Danish lakes and harbors Kierkegaard might have observed during his lifetime. In preparation for a temporary adventure to the godless North, I came across this reading just prior to another revelation on the water. The week at Passport itself was both invaluable and indescribable. But, as many are aware, often beautiful moments are unscripted and unexpected.

Adventuring at the U.S. National Whitewater Center outside of Charlotte, it came to pass that I was the only chaperone present as 18 youth individually entered the river in their own kayaks. And as we got on the water, the sky blackened and a storm approached in the distance. And we happy few took off on the river with the intent of navigating around an island before lightning struck. So just as we were on the other side of the island, one youth was a bit behind, another parallel with me just ahead, and the other 16 about 300 yards further around the bend. And the youth parallel to me, whom I love, decided he needed to stand in his kayak. And so he stood in his kayak. And the water became choppy and lightning flashed miles in the distance. And in that moment, after an indescribable week of growth and togetherness (the pleasant and unpleasant kind), I got it. Many things both seen and unseen led me to that moment out on the water. I was explaining why one ought not to stand in a kayak unprepared, encouraging the one who was a bit behind, and trying to keep an eye on the 16 who had gone ahead.  And I loved every bit of it.

In Mark 4:40, on the water in a storm, Jesus said to the disciples “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The youth of HBC may be many things, but they are not afraid. They are not afraid to love. They are not afraid to grow. They are not afraid to test limits. They are not afraid to be authentic. If we truly wish to love, perhaps we can learn to love as youth love. This is what came to me on the water in a storm.