In winter, Portland huddles under a blanket of heavy slate. The leaden strata smothers the city, mocking the hopeful visions afforded by fleeting, bright summer.
Winter is a dark time. Dark times foster introspection and doubts, as with the sailor in Father Flynn's sermon:
A cargo ship sank one night. It caught fire and went down, and only one sailor survived. He found a lifeboat, rigged a sail, and being of a nautical discipline turned his eyes to the heavens and read the stars.It's winter in Portland.
He set a course for his home, and, exhausted, fell asleep.
Clouds rolled in, and for the next 20 nights, he could no longer see the stars.
He thought he was on course, but there was no way to be certain. And as the days rolled on, and the sailor wasted away, he began to have doubts.
Had he set his course right? Was he still going on towards his home? Or was he horribly lost and doomed to a terrible death?
No way to know. The message of the constellations, had he imagined it because of his desperate circumstance? Or had he seen truth once and now had to hold on to it without further reassurance?
There are those of you in church today who know exactly the crisis of faith I describe, and I wanna say to you, doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.
When you are lost, you are not alone.
And if it is bright and clear today, we can be sure it won't stay that way for long. So, fellow doubters, take your bearings and set your courses while the light lasts.
And please believe me. You are not alone.
As Jackson Browne put it:
Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
And just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(the world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know