Storm at sea – 21 June 2021
Here a boat is caught in the midst of a storm. The wind is strong and the waves high. One sail has been ripped from the mast, and is held in the arms of a man at the stern of the boat, the other sail is ripped and is working its way loose. Nearby other boats have already sunk.
The boat is making its way towards the land sown on the right, on the other side of this small sea. The ferocity of the storm is indicated not just by the seething sea, but by the dark expanse of dark sky above the boat.
On the boat some are concerned with managing the vessel in the storm, while others are waking a figure (shown in pink/red) who has been asleep. It is Jesus that they awake, showing him the storm that threatens their lives. There is the expectation that he will do something. Above to the right, the dark sky breaks and light pours down on the waves and boat. At this moment the storm is terrible, but shortly there will be peace and calm.
The picture is Christ in the storm on the Sea of Galilee (1695) by Ludolf Bakhuysen, from the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In his time Bakhuysen was the leading Dutch painter of maritime subjects. His studio was visited by Peter the Great and Cosimo III de’ Medici.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
There came a wind like a bugle;
It quivered through the grass,
And a green chill upon the heat
So ominous did pass
We barred the windows and the doors
As from an emerald ghost;
The doom’s electric moccason
That very instant passed.
On a strange mob of panting trees,
And fences fled away,
And rivers where the houses ran
The living looked that day.
The bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings whirled.
How much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the world!
Emily Dickinson, The storm
O God our defender, storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us all from unbelief; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Scottish Episcopal Church