Do you know what is covering the bottom of this boat? Barnacles - hundreds, even thousands of barnacles. I heard a story about barnacles tonight that is worth sharing, and then, of course, I will put my own spin on it. Hopefully, my spin will prompt you to examine your own barnacles! Barnacles are little sea creatures that attach themselves to all sorts of things like anchors, boat hulls - even the tails of a whale. Once attached, they begin to form a very hard shell around themselves for protection. This very hard shell is extremely difficult to scrape off whatever it is attached to. When the hull of a ship is covered in barnacles, it creates drag and slows down the ship's progress through the water. Portland, Oregon is quite a haul from the Pacific Ocean. It doesn't sit right there on the coast like San Francisco, which provides easy access for sea going vessels. Captains of ships have to go an extra long way to go up the Columbia and Wilamette Rivers to reach this fresh water port. It's really out of the way, yet hundreds of ship captains choose to go there to be in the fresh water because the barnacles can't live in fresh water, so they just fall off or are easily scraped off. If the ship were to stay in salt water, the barnacles would thrive and at some point, the ship would need to be put into dry dock, where a very lengthy, difficult, expensive process is undertaken to scrape off all of the barnacles.
I am sure there are many metaphors for this interesting story; I want to share the one that came to my mind. If we were to think of ourselves as the ship sailing through life, and the barnacles as bits of things that people have said or done to us, this story can provide some wise direction for us. When someone says or does something that doesn't feel very good - perhaps, it's hurtful or unkind or even untrue, it can stick to us. Sometimes we let these things, that are stuck to us, harden. They can become nearly impossible to remove or scrape off. It requires a great deal of effort to remove these feelings from ourselves. Having barnacles attached to us slows us down. We don't glide through life as easily when we have old junk or barnacles stuck to us. It creates a real drag!
We can't avoid coming into contact with these little creatures (words or actions that are unpleasant), but we certainly don't need to let those things stick and harden so that they need to be painstakingly scraped off. We need to scrape or flick them off of us before they get a chance to harden!
Sometimes we are the ship's hull with barnacles attached, and sometimes we are the ones that are creating the barnacles on someone else. In either case, this story would say to me that we need to take care of things sooner rather than later. It also suggests that we sometimes need to take the time and effort to get to fresh water where they can no longer survive and get a clean hull - ready to sail smoothly.
PQ - What barnacles are attached to you that are creating drag and need to be scraped off?
PQ - What barnacles have you attached to someone else's ship and you need to go and help them scrape it off?
PQ - What would fresh water be for you? Where can you go (metaphorically) that the barnacles can no longer live?