Musings from the Manse – July 2021

Do you ever see somebody doing something and think I fancy having a go at that? Don’t get me wrong I am no adrenaline junkie but I do like to try things and I have often looked at paddle boarders and thought I would like to have a go but wasn’t sure I would be able stay on the board. Then in April this year I saw a group of folk on the Nidd in Knaresborough and they all looked quite a bit older than me and all were kneeling down and staying afloat in the calm water and that convinced me to have a go.  So I booked and three weeks later the day arrived of my first paddle board experience.

I confess to being apprehensive but excited and ready to get wet as I met with Lynne our coach and my fellow trainee a young woman who had come to learn the right skills having bought her own paddle board a few weeks earlier and already successfully tried it once. After some onshore instruction we set off on the river and as instructed kneeling down, with Lynne offering encouraging words and saying on the first lesson many don’t stand up but just get used to controlling the board etc.  I soon became very comfortable switching between kneeling down and kneeling up and directing the board as we made our way down river under the viaduct towards the castle, but not as comfortable as my companion in the class who was stood up after no time at all and looked very able.

Lynne suggested that if I want to try standing I may wish to wait till a little later in the two hour lesson in case I fell in so I wouldn’t  be wet and cold for a long period. Seemed like a good idea to me but I didn’t want to leave it too long as I was determined to give it a go, after all, my companion made it look very easy. So we returned to a shallow part where Lynne could hold my board and she talked me through how I needed to get from kneeling into a squat position and the position where the balls of my feet should be on the board and then looking forward with a straight back you have to go for it and rise to your feet.  In principal this sounded ok but in practice everything became wobbly from the board on the water to the whole of my body but I managed it first time[bearing in mind Lynne was still supporting my board]. She then turned me into the river and let go and it seemed ok if only I could stop my legs shaking. After a short while I fell to my knees on the board.

Buoyed on by my first attempt I tried again in the middle of the river without Lynne supporting my board but it took several nearly getting up attempts before I managed it and again fell back to my knees after a short time. Lynne and my companion were very encouraging but I think my support team on the bank were secretly waiting for the big splash. Well they weren’t disappointed, the next attempt I got up very quickly, overbalanced and with the grace of a hippo entering the water I performed a backward dive into the Nidd. Undeterred, I managed two more successful stands and paddling for a time before time was called on this experience.

I loved the experience and it gave me a new perspective of the River, a confidence to try it again and some great instruction and encouragement together with wonderful conversations about life and spirituality with our instructor.

Of course I am not encouraging everyone to take up paddle boarding but as Christians we are called by Christ to adopt a ‘have a go’ attitude, to follow his instruction, to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit and get a different perspective on our life with Jesus and encourage others to take the plunge and get to know him and commit to him.

I’ll see you on the ‘river’ of life.

Your friend and servant


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