"Manatee Tranquility"
(By Paul Dragon as told to Steve Creech)

12-29-2005 Church Within SOW Seeds Service - Story #371

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Story of the Week
Manatee Tranquility
(By Paul Dragon as told to Steve Creech)

It was the last thing anyone expects. I had rounded the corner on my motorcycle at fifty miles an hour. Unfortunately, so did the car coming from the opposite direction. I learned later that the collision had sent me flying a hundred and seventy feet. My legs, hips and internal organs - just about every piece of my body - had been crushed. Doctors said I would never walk again. Let me tell you, there are few more sobering words in life than that. Now the question was: What was I going to do? With little else to do over the course of my recovery, I began to examine my life. A friend suggested I try boating. Right, I thought. As if that was going to make a difference! But my friend insisted. And, yes, the spring- fed rivers around my home in Florida were beautiful this time of year. The channels were fringed with Sabal palms, live oaks and southern magnolia. I was skeptical, but maybe he was right. Maybe I could spend some quiet time on the river and perhaps even find the answers to some of my questions about life.

After I was discharged and feeling a little better, I bought a kayak and volunteered my time with a local organization to teach visitors about the endangered manatees that inhabited the rivers. Every day, I would paddle through the river with my dog Sky, a two-year-old red chow, perched at the front of the kayak. Pretty soon I was enjoying the sounds of nature and talking to boaters about rules regarding manatees.

The work was comforting and relaxing, but I still couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing. Then one day while I was doing a manatee count for a local research group, I saw a tiny, wrinkled nose poke out of the river. A baby manatee, less than two weeks old, was swimming with its mother close behind. Sky's ears shot up. As I paddled toward the manatee family, Sky moved to the front of the kayak, her black tongue hanging to the side. This was her first experience with a baby manatee, and I figured she probably wanted to get a close look. The water began to bubble. Sky barked. She wanted to know exactly what this thing was. It probably looked too small to be a manatee. For all she knew, it was some chubby, little alligator. When the baby manatee finally came up, it sprayed foam all over Sky, who, for the first time in her life, looked too shocked to bark. But Sky was nothing if not a trooper. She regained her composure, leaned in again and balanced carefully until she and the baby manatee were touching noses and greeting each other like visitors from different worlds. With the mother close at hand, I reached down and scratched the little manatee. I scratched and scratched. The manatee couldn't seem to get enough. She was in absolute manatee heaven.

All that winter, Sky and I took the kayak out on the river. Pretty soon Sky and the baby manatee were greeting each other like old friends. That's when I first noticed the change. My whole outlook began to shift. I had been undergoing physical therapy all this time, and slowly, but surely, I regained full use of my legs. Eventually, I could even walk without a cane.

There was something special about those days on the water. I think I was inspired by the affinity for life all these creatures had, even the baby manatee. She had a tranquility that I'd never seen before. She just moved around with the sure and certain knowledge that things were okay. Being out there with them day after day, I began to feel like that, too. Eventually, I became certain about life again and gained the understanding that, no matter how bad things got, life would take care of itself. And that feeling has never gone away.

Pastor's Quote of the Week
(*Note: That last paragraph of this week's Story brought to mind a quote that was and is quite significant for me in my journey in this life… that, “sure and certain knowledge that things were okay” theme. The quote is a little long, but… Oh Well. <g> It's worth the read. It's about the kind of Faith and Trust that I strive to allow into my life. -Daniel-)

        In the earthly life of Jesus, religion was a living experience, a direct and personal movement from spiritual reverence to practical righteousness. The faith of Jesus bore the transcendent fruits of the divine spirit. His faith was not immature and credulous like that of a child, but in many ways it did resemble the unsuspecting trust of the child mind. Jesus trusted God much as the child trusts a parent. He had a profound confidence in the universe--just such a trust as the child has in its parental environment. Jesus' wholehearted faith in the fundamental goodness of the universe very much resembled the child's trust in the security of its earthly surroundings. He depended on the heavenly Father as a child leans upon its earthly parent, and his fervent faith never for one moment doubted the certainty of the heavenly Father's overcare. He was not disturbed seriously by fears, doubts, and skepticism. Unbelief did not inhibit the free and original expression of his life. He combined the stalwart and intelligent courage of a full-grown man with the sincere and trusting optimism of a believing child. His faith grew to such heights of trust that it was devoid of fear.
        The faith of Jesus attained the purity of a child's trust. His faith was so absolute and undoubting that it responded to the charm of the contact of fellow beings and to the wonders of the universe. His sense of dependence on the divine was so complete and so confident that it yielded the joy and the assurance of absolute personal security. There was no hesitating pretense in his religious experience. In this giant intellect of the full-grown man the faith of the child reigned supreme in all matters relating to the religious consciousness. It is not strange that he once said, "Except you become as a little child, you shall not enter the kingdom." Notwithstanding that Jesus' faith was childlike, it was in no sense childish.
        Jesus does not require his disciples to believe in him but rather to believe with him, believe in the reality of the love of God and in full confidence accept the security of the assurance of sonship with the heavenly Father. The Master desires that all his followers should fully share his transcendent faith. Jesus most touchingly challenged his followers, not only to believe what he believed, but also to believe as he believed. This is the full significance of his one supreme requirement, "Follow me."

(From: The Urantia Papers - Paper-196 Section-0)

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        In You I Trust.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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