The Importance of Harbors

I’m sitting in what feels like the only coffee shop in Southwestern Michigan, a far departure from the surplus of caffeinated offerings in Chicago. My sightline out the window features a large “KEEP SAWYER WEIRD” mural. My back and computer are exposed to the local patrons, including an elderly farmer who ordered an almond milk latte. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve experienced this morning in this quaint brick town.

The street poles on Sawyer Road feature a series of banners denoting “Welcome to Harbor Country”, serving as the latest reminder of what I took away from my time at the harbor in San Diego. Like a ship on what seems to be a never-ending voyage, I’ve been searching for a place to pull into for a day of resupply and repair. These banners are no coincidence.

Last month, I trekked to Southern California not knowing how badly I required a trip to the harbor. I needed to hear from God, contemplate where I’ve been and adjust my course. The Holy Spirit touched me in a clear way, unlike anything I previously experienced. But San Diego isn’t my home and what good is a boat if it only dwells at shore?

Two days after returning to Chicago, I journeyed to Saint Petersburg, Russia for a six-day work trip. I was excited to explore my first European city, yet simultaneously nervous about quickly killing my spiritual high. Rhythm on the road is the one of the most insurmountable hurdles in my life, yet I did my best to keep going. The long days and brief sleep slowed me down, but a large shipyard within view of my hotel and the city’s crest, which features a pair of anchors, were all too present.

The Port of Saint Petersburg along the Baltic Sea is off in the distance.

If one encounter wasn’t enough, my ensuing travels took me to Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago. Not only is the word “port” in the name of the city, my hotel was situated smack dab in the middle of an inlet with large ships coming and going day and night. The trip came to a shocking end, including the most difficult and trying moments of my career, yet I couldn’t help but sit against my room’s window and think about the significance of the harbor and its repeated appearance as night turned to morning.

The view from my hotel room in Trinidad & Tobago during the day.

After each of these occurrences, I considered posting a picture to Instagram or sending texts to close friends, but I held off. I convinced myself in order to share the significance of these harbors, I needed time and words. God put these places in my life for a reason and I hesitated to say that without understanding what it meant for me. I’ve decided He didn’t want me to forget what I learned in the harbor, both the physical place and the mental state. He’s also made it obvious whether in Russia, off the coast of South America or in a small town in the lower left corner of The Mitten, it’s okay to retreat. It’s okay to admit we’re in need of rest and repair. Like it not, we all do.

Lucky for me, I’m in Harbor Country.

Thank you for taking the time to read my quick work. Have feedback on how I can improve? Want to talk more about these or other experiences in my life? I’d love to connect! Leave a comment below or send me a note and I’ll be sure to respond.