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Canoeing the Des Plains
by Michael Bauml

My wife and I hadn't been in a canoe since college but we decided to go on the church canoe trip on Sunday September 26th. It sounded like fun, but to tell the truth I was apprehensive. I swim like a rock. Once across the pool with a jumping start is about my speed. Once we were there the outfitter assured us that the water was only 3 or 4 feet deep and we had life jackets, so it seemed safe enough. We decided to give it a try. We were the first canoe to leave and it was very windy, so windy in fact that the course for the trip had to be changed. We were to canoe upstream straight into the wind and then turn around and come back to where we started. It was hard going, but we got into a rhythum paddling and slowly but surely were making progress upstream.

Part of the way along the stream, the wind turned the canoe sideways and while we were trying to straighten it out, the canoe tipped over. This should have not been a real problem as the stream was only three feet deep but we tipped over in what must have been 10 feet of water. I was wearing windbreaker that filled up with water and I was unable to make any progress towards the shore. I panicked, but luckly my wife was closer to the shore when we tipped and was able to get to shore quickly. She calmed me down and guided we toward the canoe which I was able to grab and hold on to. If it hadn't been for her I don't know what would have happened. After about 15 minutes, I was able to gradually work the canoe to the shore.

The mud on the shore was past our knees and we were lucky not to literally get stuck in the mud. Eventually, we got back in the canoe and worked our way back to the pick up point and headed home. Our portable phone, pager, and clothes were all ruined. In addition, I lost my glasses. All this didn't matter that much as long as we were alright. There are lessons to be learned from this experience. First of all, that possessions are not important. It reminds me of the rich man who was worried about where to store his surplus when he was about to die. You fool, today your life will be required of you. The lost possessions were not important, in fact I now have better vision with my new glasses, a better phone, a better pager, and with the new phone service we had to get are actually saving money. Secondly in thinking about it, for whatever reason God did not want me that day.

Maybe he has work for me yet to do or maybe I'm not ready to be with him and he gave me some extra time to get my act together. It is a fact of life that none of us know when our time on this earth is up and that we are only here by the grace of God. We would all do well to remember this the next time we are asked to give of our possessions, help the poor, do the work of the church, or in any way do the work of the Lord. If we put off doing these things because of worldly concerns and think that we'll do it the next time, the next time might just be to late.

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