My grandfather once warned me that St. George's Basin, South of Sydney, Australia, is not always as calm as a mill pond. I had always found that hard to believe, until one windy day I helped ferry a family across the inlet who had come foul of the Basin. There they stood with nothing but the rudder of their hired boat. I am not sure why they carried the rudder through the bush to the Inlet, but it none the less made the point. The Basin is not always as calm as a mill pond.
Jesus and his disciples had ventured out onto lake Galilee. The high surrounding cliffs of the lake made it a target for summer squalls. Turbulent air would often funnel down the narrow ravines, spiral across the water, lift all before.
"The waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion."
Most of the disciples were fisherman, and they knew the lake well, so their fear was by no means foolish. They were also superstitious men. All the powers of darkness and chaos dwelt in the deep of the sea. It was the nether region of Demonic power, always bubbling and surging, seeking to rise up and smother order and goodness. For them, that dark something didn't live down the back yard behind the incinerator, It was under the boat, in the waving reeds, in the curling waves that fought desperately to climb into the boat and fold them into the deep. So, they were filled with fear.
"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
That infernal darkness, that shapeless form, that image once remembered. A dream, a night howl denied, but its smell lingers on. A childhood memory recessed behind the technology of our new age - an age which denies powers of good or evil. No longer heaven of hell, no longer God or Satan. There is just me and my memories. But last night I was putting out the milk bottles and I sensed it again. Behind the rustling leaves, the shadow's form, and it is there.
"He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm."
The disciples were terrified, no longer of that infernal darkness, but of the one who sent it cringing below - that shape of circumstance and suggestion; undermining, engulfing, denying, always denying. It was driven below; calmed, captured, subdued; its power buckled and spent before his voice.
"In fear and amazement they asked one another, 'Who is this? He commands even the wind and the waves, and they obey him.'"