July 2018 Newsletter (PDF)

From the Interim Priest,

A few years ago I took up rowing. I was driving past the UMass-Lowell Boathouse on the Merrimack River and saw a banner inviting all to “Learn to Row” so I signed up. It was perfect for me; I was working at the homeless shelter in Lowell and needed to do something completely different. I was in an eight person boat with a coxswain. Each rower has one oar, called Sweep rowing. It was great. I had my oar and was told exactly what to do. I learned to be in sync with everyone else in the boat. Eyes forward, focusing on the back of the head of the person in front of me, one stroke after another. When the cox said faster, we rowed faster, when she said row harder we rowed harder. Only when she said take a break, could we take a break. I enjoyed being part of a team with someone else in charge.

Since coming to St. Stephen’s I have not been able to participate in the evening Sweep program in Lowell. An alternative to Sweeping is called Sculling, where the rower has two oars and is usually rowing alone. I have been able to do this and found that while sculling is similar to sweeping, it feels different. The boat is smaller, narrower, and does not have those big oars to keep it stable. It is much easier to tip over while sculling. However, except for the hands, the basic mechanics of the stroke is the same. The change is that I am solely responsible for the balance, or set, of the boat. I also, have to pay attention to where I am going since there is no cox to guide me. I get to determine the pace and strength of each stroke and can take a break whenever I want.

It has occurred to me that St. Stephen’s has also moved from Sweep rowing to Sculling. You no longer have someone who is steering the boat and telling you when to row harder and when to rest. St. Stephen’s is largely on its own, having to look around, having to keep the “boat” set and determine how hard to push. What is remarkable to me is how much you, the members of St. Stephen’s, are staying your seats and driving this ship forward. It is different than when you had a Rector, but the commitment and vision continues.

It has been a great privilege for me to be on the water with you. We may be mid-steam but God has provided all that we need to keep on rowing.

The Rev. Tom Barrington