God amidst the surf

Dear colleagues,

If you have a moment this week, take a look at this short article in The New Haven Register. It’s about Matt Lindeman, Episcopal priest, church rector, father—and surfer. (And also, it should be noted, a seminary classmate and close personal friend of mine.) A couple of words of wisdom from the Rev. Lindeman about his hobby

“When I’m truly present with God, it diminishes my own agenda… When reminded of God’s bigness and my smallness, it has a way of organizing things.”

On the threat of sharks: “When we’re afraid we can do things not in our best interest and we all end up in situations when it’s not under our control. How do I move from fear and anxiety to wonder?”

On why he took up surfing again after a decade hiatus: “It was perfect timing for me because I needed something besides my daily life and work.”

There is no doubt a fuller article that could be written about the spirituality of surfing, which I will leave to Matt. For now, I want to draw your attention to that final quotation, that Matt took up surfing because it was “something besides his daily life and work.” There’s a word for such activities: hobbies. In our always-on, always-working, “crazy busy” world, hobbies have receded in significance. Work/life is just too demanding.

But what this article reminds me is how absolutely vital it is to have activities that occupy our mind and body and energy that are different from the regular routines in which we so often find ourselves. As the article makes clear, surfing is important for Matt not simply because it allows him a kind of sabbath from his usual routine. Surfing is also important because it leads him into deeper insights about his Christian faith.

I well know that in the midst of school, ministerial discernment, and the pressures of home and personal life, having a hobby can seem like a real luxury for a theological student (or a college principal for that matter). And I’m not telling you to take up surfing or knitting or collaging or cross-country skiing tomorrow. But I do invite you to reflect on this question: in the normal patterns of my life, are there are opportunities for me to meet God in surprising, unexpected, and unusual ways? For Matt, that happens in surfing. How does it happen for you?

Faithfully yours,
Jesse Zink

This message was written by College Principal Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a weekly news digest distributed to the college community.

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