With each passing year this wooden wreck disappears a little bit more completely. It is difficult now to imagine it as it would have been when new, freshly varnished and painted. I suppose it could even have been a tiny jetty; my untrained eye struggles to make sense of the wooden skeleton poking up through the enveloping mud. And what of those whose craftsmanship and energy constructed this rowboat, skiff or landing, are they lost forever too? I am left wondering what was in the minds of those who first used it and of the stories of which it was a part. Whatever its original form and purpose, life here has long since gone on without it. Looking down at these pathetic remains resurrection seems irrelevant and unengaged, a word denied meaning by the cloying mud and the ravages of time. But what if I am looking in the wrong place?
In his autobiography ‘The Eye of the Wind’, the acclaimed naturalist Peter Scott recalled a wonderful piece of wisdom which was offered to him by a Sikh in the RAF. Scott was a naval officer, but in August 1941 he wanted to have a couple of trips with Bomber Command so as to better understand that aspect of the war. Singh, the second pilot of a Stirling bomber in which Scott was to fly that night, said this to him: “Tonight, when you are looking out of the window, if you see something you do not like, look out of a different window.” As Scott acknowledged, this simple piece of advice seems applicable well beyond its original context.
How sad it is to look out and dwell on all the things in life which resemble the wreck in the photograph. Once a valued ‘given’ of our everyday world, now they are gone and are lost forever. Destruction, decay and death seem to have an inexorable grip upon our perception. But what if we look out of a different window? What if we frame our seeing from the standpoint of resurrection? What do we see then? Well the wreck is still at wreck, it is not magically transformed and restored to its prime. It does not rise phoenix-like from its muddy tomb. But looking around it soon becomes apparent that the purpose for which it was built is still evident today. Looking out of a different window, as it were, and just a few tens of metres away from the wreck, this is what we see.
Out of the water and perched on the mud a boat is tied up next to a small landing stage. The particular craft that became the wreck was clearly not an ending. The sea still entices people to cast off from this place and venture out on the tide. This unchanging purpose and intention are as real as the salt on the breeze and as tangible as the call of the lone curlew away on the marsh.
At Easter we celebrate the spectacular view from the window of God’s creative love at work in the world. Jesus takes us by the hand and points to where we should look. From wreck to resurrection. And within our imaginations the salt-fresh tang of the Holy Spirit’s presence births the divine purpose afresh. The tide turns and we are minded to voyage.