I have a vague recollection of learning to swim; it certainly involved the use of a flutterboard and the shallow end of the school swimming pool. It also involved going side to side in the shallow end. The security was I was able to put my feet on the bottom of the pool and my head would be above the water. I have no recollection of the transition to deeper parts of the pool – however, I do remember that by the end of my schooling I was swimming lengthwise which meant of course engaging with the “deep end”. This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 5: 1 – 11) has this request of Jesus to the fishermen whose boat he had sequestered “ put out into the deep water and let down your net for a catch.” (v.4). Put quite simply, ‘engage with the deep’. The preceding verses are worth noting because it tells us two important facts; firstly, the request was to fisherman who had already been fishing all night, “we have worked all night and caught nothing.” (v.5), and, secondly, “they were washing their nets.” (v. 2) When I read the Gospel event symbolically, I read something like “we have done our work (which resulted in nothing), and now we are tidying up, why would we want to go out again (at the request of someone who knows nothing about the wind, the tides [“he is the carpenter’s son surely”]. Again, as our Church enters this time of Synodalitymaybe there is something in this story that may be of advantage; for example, listen to the voice of the other (especially the voice that ”supposedly” knows nothing; listen to the voice of the one(s) on the edge, “once while Jesus was standing beside the lake .” (v. 1); be prepared to take what has already been cleaned and go out into the deep, where you cannot stand up (yikes!) and you may even need the supporting hand of another (double yikes!!), and, be prepared for the clean nets to be dirtied again! And the biggest yikes of all, “so they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (7)
The illustration is of what is known as The Ancient Galilee Boat; it is an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD, discovered in 1986 on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The remains of the boat, 27 feet (8.27 meters) long, 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide and with a maximum preserved height of 4.3 feet (1.3 meters), first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (which is actually a great fresh-water lake) receded. Upon retrieval, by archaeologists, the boat was then submerged in a wax bath for 12 years, which protected the boat before it could be displayed at the Yigal Allon Museum in Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar, Israel.