I am still sifting through my images from Port Townsend: such a pile of blessings!
What I noticed as I examined this one more closely was the two oarlocks, those little U-shaped metal pieces protruding from the edge of the boat.
I don't know if you've ever done any rowing, but oarlocks can be a problem. The boat is created with holes in the rim, and then you slip the oarlocks into the holes; they rotate in the holes with the movement of the oars.
The problem is that it's easy for them to fall out -- and into the drink. Some people solve this problem by attaching the oarlocks to the oars themselves. But in this case the oars are tied with a light string to the board that supports the seats. If you DO need to remove them, it's easy enough to untie the string. But otherwise the string ensures they don't slip out accidentally.
I like the simplicity of this solution, and I like, too, the delicacy of the string. I am always in favor of a light touch to keep things from falling apart; it's easy to get heavy-handed about such things. A light touch, to me, seems to trust that the natural order of things is good; that most days things will evolve and function exactly as they need to. And, at the same time, it's a gentle protection against the occasional shifts and challenges that can occur, a sort of "I've got your back when the weather gets rough" statement.
If you look at that in the context of parenting, a light touch takes the shape of gentle discipline, clear boundaries, statements of trust, and lots of attention and awareness, so that small course corrections can be administered early on to avoid more substantial disasters.
What I'm learning in my coursework is that coaching, too, necessitates a light touch, a certain delicacy of approach. The coach invites her client to speak, encourages a return to task if she gets off task or off topic, but doesn't come in with heavy-handed questions about plans and alternatives. The word I encountered yesterday was "curiosity," and I like the delicacy of that. As your coach, I don't need to make you do anything. My job is simply to help you uncover your own challenges, gifts and strengths, your longings and possibilities. I don't have to know anything other than how to stay in that curious space without judgment or proclamation; I trust that all the knowledge you need to know already resides in you; I only have to help you tease it out into the open.
I'm not there yet; my blindspots and patterns lead me to judgments and proclamations all too often, and for all the wrong reasons. But I find this idea that I only need to provide a safe space and curiosity very appealing and freeing. I am the string for the oarlock: it gets to do all the hard work of keeping your boat on task; I just serve to lightly anchor and secure it so it may continue to function as it was born to do.
And doesn't that go a long way toward explaining that tricky concept of Free Will? God is always present, gently encouraging and guiding with occasional course corrections and a constant safety net. But it is we who do the work, make the choices, choose the path, and step forward into the light.