Napa Valley Taize

Green blue water, whale shark exploring the sandbar, kiters' wind filled sails, big open swell, lusciously tepid water.  Blowing 20 knots, a little more than I initially want, but enough to encourage me, who stands too long on the shore when I first arrive.  All decked in my 5.3 wetsuit, harness, vest, booties.  Windsurfer ready with a 4.5 meter sail, 96 liter board.

Al, who's quarantined to land waiting for knees to heal is standing beside , encouraging me to "just go play in the waves."  Dan, who is sail-shedded because of a tick bite, calls "in, in, in."  And Val, whose kite ripped dangerously away from her the day before and is recovering from bruised ribs and swollen hands smiles encouragingly. 

People Rich and I have known for more than 20 years and still don't know their last names.  People we see one time a year.  Yet together we share an intimacy that occurs with those who daily throw themselves into life-threatening activities.  And not only activities, but shared life-altering events, such as Tony's death on the beach, Jim's departure to die at home, and this year, Jayne's sudden death.

Life happens here on this Mexican beachfront, without distinction.  The folks often ask, "why do stay so short a time?"  "Stay longer," they say.

Drawn by the water, sand, sun, sports, we keep going back for community.

Isn't it a cultural phenomena that folks come for the activity, and stay because of community?  Meister Eckhart says that we are a "we" before we are an "I."  Each year as we drive out onto the beach, and folks gather to say hello, it is that moment where our days of driving are validated.  We become a "we" amidst our fierce independence, and are softened by their love for us.  Naturally.

Last night several of us shared Jorge's spit roasted BBQ chicken, rice, tortillas, together.  We lit a luminary that floated up over the water and carried our verbalized wishes and prayers with it, up and up, then snuffed out.  Those of us who play guitar passed it around, singing songs we all knew.  Grateful after a beautiful day of sailing, and the joy of its soft Eucharistic like ending.

La Ventana windsurfing community is not unlike our Taize worship, it seems to me.  We gather for similar reasons, that is perhaps a desire for shared intimacy created by a particular activity or experience.  The result is most often a softness, an inner consolation.

Big Don wanders into camp with his story of learning how to water start when he was just beginning windsurfing.  It's a rough story of being swept down 3 miles in the barge lane on the Columbia River Gorge, after exhausting himself by striving over and over to lift his sail out of the water.  After swimming for hours, he finally reaches shore, and three unknown guys scamper down the rocks to meet him.  A can of beer, a chair, strong arms to wrestle his gear up.  "We've been watchin' you man, we been watchin."

After his deeply scary and frustrating experience of fear and inability, Don vowed to sell his gear and give it all up,  yet "it was at this moment I was forever hooked."

Join us Feb. 3 as we gather to sing, pray, listen, and walk with each other.

"We've been watchin' for you, we've been watchin."