Peter reached for Jesus, grabbing fistfuls of wet robe. Shaking him violently he cried, “Master! Dammit! Master! Wake up! We are perishing!” His eyes fluttered open. I heard Peter scream mere inches from Jesus’ face, “For God’s sake man, help us bail! Do something!” Then with vehemence, “We are ready to sink like a stone! Don’t you care at all? How can you sleep through this?” At this point, under these circumstances, Peter was by default our leader, our captain, indeed, our savior. This was clearly not Jesus’ field of expertise. Peter had survived countless storms on this lake. Even though he said it was bigger than any he had seen, we still looked to Peter, not to Jesus, to get us out of this. Our first mistake. But Jesus was a carpenter, not a sailor. What did he know of storms and waves and boats?

I was close enough to see his eyes. He looked at Peter with what at first I thought was rage, but then they softened. He took Peter’s wrists and said simply, “Where is your faith, Simon? Release me.” Peter unclenched the powerful fists that were filled with the Master’s robes. He was bewildered, angry, exasperated. “Faith? While we are drowning, you speak of faith? Where is your sanity, man? Awake now! Get up! Help us bail!” Just then, another wave struck us, heaving the stern of the boat where Jesus lay up high into the wind, which shrieked through his clothes. What was the point of waking him? What could he do now? It would have been a merciful thing to let him drown in his sleep.

Grasping at the rigging, Jesus managed to stand. He looked at the sea heaving and tossing, then into the darkening sky. Spray stung his face. Facing the wind, fist raised at the webbing of lightning spread across the sky, he actually laughed! Into this black, raging storm, he laughed! As if all this were entertainment! As if it were a joyous game! I can assure you, I laughed not. None of us laughed. Why this infuriating smugness? Surely he is aware of the danger? Did he not see that the boat was filled almost to the gunnels with water? Was he mocking us, naively ignorant, oblivious to his own peril? Questions, the absurdities of which were not seen for the madness of our fear. Clouds had obliterated the stars and moon; dark, foreboding and terrible, stabbed with fire, a fitting place for death, not mocking laughter!?

In our panic, the other boats were forgotten. Abishag barked, and as was her habit it seemed, only once. The dog! I had forgotten the animal had been sleeping under the bench where Jesus himself slept. Unlike the rest of us, the creature did not seem excited. She looked at Jesus and sniffed at the wind. The Master released a hand from the rigging, the deck wallowing madly, chaotically, and stroked the animal’s head. Turning his face from the wind, he spoke to all of us, “Where is your faith? Why are you all so frightened?”

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