I could not unnoticed the blue starfish when I stepped on the shore of Balicasag Island in the province of Bohol. Its bright color stood out against a background of white and grey pebbles, shells, and crushed corals. It must have been waiting for a big wave or a high tide that would take it back to the sea. I knelt to closely observe it, but it never moved. How long had the starfish been away from its home? I could not tell.
I looked back and admired the magnificent seascape. The water was crystal clear in my shallow space and deep blue or turquoise farther, an indication of varying depths. Beyond, the outline of mountains was visible above the horizon. I imbibed the breezy air and soothed my feet with the gentle waves, while allowing the sun to paint a darker color all over my skin.
Unlike the starfish, I certainly know how far and how long have I been away from home. I know it because I have been so distant that even in the company of eight, I felt all alone. I know my way back home. I know that there are people standing there with arms wide open no matter how many times I have walked away. Yet, the thought of returning home bothers me.
Why can’t I go back home?
I walked aimlessly along the coast. There were a few boats parked near the shore, and watching them sway in the rhythm of undulating waves had forced a smile on my dry lips.
I passed by the boats; they were empty. I looked about to find the boatmen calmly taking a nap on the sand under the shades of trees, while some were eating their early lunch in huts. I moved closer to one of the boats, and soon I realized why the boaters could stay at a distance without having to keep their eyes watchful on their boats.
The boat had a rope that was attached to a heavy, metal device called anchor. It is thrown overboard or fastened securely on a solid rock to prevent the boat from drifting away. The anchor keeps the boat in place.
The sea is not always a safe place. Changing weather conditions can make it fierce or kind, and every wise boatman knows the importance of an anchor in every uncertain voyage they embark into the sea.
The anchor gives an assurance that the boat stays in place when raging waves rock its hull, when the vehement wind tries to blow it away into the stormy seas. The anchor ensures that the boat stays at home.
I put off my slippers and pressed my feet down on the sand. I looked down and stared at the sand that now covered my feet.
What keeps me at home? What keeps me firmly footed in a position of faith that does not cower when the forces of unholy trinity – the world, the flesh, the devil – strike?
“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32 NLT
Like a boat that faces the battering of waves, I also need an anchor – a sure hope that would hold me in a steadfast position. I need the anchor of unchanging truth on a solid rock that would protect me from drifting with the storm of worldly ideas, that would set me free from the grip of changes and troubles.
As I followed the connection between the boat and the anchor, I realized that the rope is only as good as the anchor. It has to remain strong for it holds the boat and the anchor together.
The rope is the faith that connects me to the anchor of truth, for knowing the truth and being set free by the truth requires faith. I have to believe first, and believing is not just a one-time decision.
Like a boatman that inspects and maintains the rope after the sail, I have to continuously renew my faith because I never know what storms are coming next to test its strength.
When I took my eyes off the immovable anchor, I knew that my season of wandering would soon be over. I headed toward the boat where my friends had been patiently waiting. It was time to go home.