What's Tony Thinking

A Poem for Today


As a part of today’s service at our daughter’s church, Bethel UCC in White Salmon, a poem was read that I really liked. The title is “Trough,” and it is the work of the poet, Judy Brown. Maybe you will like it too. Here it is, “Trough.”

There is a trough in waves,
a low spot
where horizon disappears
and only sky
and water
are our company.
And there we lose our way
we rest, knowing the wave will bring us
to its crest again.
There we may drown
if we let fear
hold us in its grip and shake us
side to side,
and leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
But if we rest there
in the trough,
in silence,
being in the low part of the wave,
keeping our energy and
noticing the shape of things,
the flow,
then time alone
will bring us to another
where we can see
horizon, see land again,
regain our sense
of where
we are,
and where we need to swim.

So evocative, and so reassuring. I’ve been in the trough, literally, in the ocean. It’s true, suddenly you can’t see anything but water and sky. You lose your sense of direction. Panic is not far away. But it passes. “Then time alone will bring us to another place . . .”

And I’ve been in that trough emotionally and spiritually. As it happens, that’s not the case at present. But it will be again. In my experience of such things, you tend to forget that a trough will end, that you will regain your sense of where we are . . . and who we are. So Brown’s poem is a wise reminder.

Yesterday I was in the waters of the Puget Sound. It was a beautiful day here in Seattle, so I went out kayaking. And it was quite a ride. The sea lions were super active. More than one did a full body jump out of the water. No mean feat. They are big. I don’t know what got into them, but it was fun to watch. As is usual I saw several seals, their bright, dog-like eyes watching me with interest. Less usual was seeing a seal pup, suddenly there in the water just a foot or two away. A thrill.

Having paddled south to the Discovery Point lighthouse, I turned back north, toward home. When I turned, there on the horizon, was a fleet of sailboats coming my way. Each one flew a colorful spinnaker, making the horizon look as if it were dotted with fantastic glass balls in assorted colors. Here’s a shot of one boat as it blew past my bow.

If you happen to be in some trough at the moment, rest there, keeping your energy and noticing the shape of things. Don’t panic.

If, on the other hand, you are catching the wave and your sails running full, ride on and let your colors fly for all to see.

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