In 1914, one hundred years ago, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his expedition became trapped in the Antarctic ice floes. When they lost contact with the outside world, the First World War had just erupted. Shackleton, like virtually all others, expected World War I to end quickly and decisively. Upon finally arriving at South Georgia Island a year and a half later, he asked, “Tell me, when was the war over?”
The man to whom Shackleton spoke looked at him in amazement and said, “The war is not over. Millions are being killed. Europe is mad. The world is mad.”
After packing a camper and a Chevy van full of tents, sleeping bags, luggage, six Thompsons, and four Barkleys, we got a late start. We left Northeast Arkansas mid-afternoon, and by the time we arrived at Wind Creek State Park south of Birmingham, Alabama, it was already dark. Winding our way slowly through the campground, the only light came from the dim lanterns hung on campsite posts and the occasional campfire. Soon enough, though, my grandfather Pop found our people. They’d come from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indiana (where some had fled for work during the Depression and never returned home). Our family sprawled across the state park.
This morning our Gospel lesson is that great passage in which Jesus and Peter walk on water. It reminds me of a lesser known, similar passage that I think may be in one of those Gnostic gospels that people are so enamored with these days. In this story, Jesus and Peter are teeing up on one of the water holes at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England. It just so happens that Jesus saw Rory McIlroy win the British Open at Royal Liverpool the previous week, and since he is the Son of God, after all, he believes that he can drive the ball at least as far as Rory.
“Peter,” he says, “I’ll bet you I can drive my tee shot all the way across that pond.