Adjusting the Sails: The Cross Timbers Foundation

In January 2018, Legacy Global Foundation received a proposal from The Cross Timbers Foundation, a donor-advised fund of Legacy. The proposal objective was simple:

Photo courtesy of The Cross Timbers Foundation

  1. To create camaraderie and understanding between church members through an experience shared, i.e., Refurbishing and sailing a boat together.

  2. To provide an opportunity for spiritual edification, encouragement, and growth through “Lessons on the water.”

  3. A concept of translating between the physical process of sailing to the nuance of spiritual metaphor; adjust your spiritual sails to the wind, letting and reefing spiritual sails, and holding to your faith when becalmed.

  4. To create a learning experience for the youth and adults of the church that will remain with them long afterward because of it’s unique nature.

Recently, Legacy reached out to Quentin, the advisory council member that submitted the proposal, to ask if he would write about his experience with this project. The following is Quentin’s experience, learning to adjust the sails:

A Wave of Inspiration

An August evening sailing excursion on Lake Hefner with Ann Kilpatrick and Chris Bayouth gave a group of young people a taste of the tranquility born of sailing before a calm and constant wind, and, in the course of an evening, delivered a testimony and preached a sermon tailored by the hand of nature:

Photo courtesy of The Cross Timbers Foundation

The only way to make an about face in a sailboat is to tack or to jibe; working with the wind and watching its movements carefully on the surface of the water, choosing the moment carefully to call the command “Helm alee,” cut the tiller, let out the sheets, and watch the boom swing across to slam against the end of its line.

We are in control of some part of this function, the decision to turn and our action in doing so, but the prevailing force, the wind, is unequivocally out of our hands. The only power of travel given to a sailor on the water is the wind, and he knows the words of an old maxim are indeed full of truth:

“You can’t change the wind but you can adjust your sails.”

“I wish that everyone could know what this feels like,” Were the words of one young person to Ms. Ann Kilpatrick.

Photo courtesy of The Cross Timbers Foundation

“I have a boat, and if it were in the water, I could take people sailing more often, but it’s been out of the water for several years, and needs work now,” was her reply.

We asked Ann if she would be willing to let us help her refurbish her boat in order to make it possible to take groups of guests from church and from the community sailing. In the great kindness of her nature, Ann said “yes.”

Proposals and Preparation

Fall and Christmas passed, and we arrived in January of the new year with our project proposals and preparation in order; we were ready to begin work. Over the course of three cold and windy winter months our group of young people worked together refurbishing Ann’s boat.

We were mentored and aided by Harold and Dean, experienced boatmen, and by Greg, a veteran audio and electrical engineer, and other friends of Ann who, by the end of our restoration project, were friends of ours as well.

Photo courtesy of The Cross Timbers Foundation

We learned how to refurbish a sailboat, but more meaningfully, we learned about each other,about each person’s different life experience and how that made them a unique and vital member of a team. In working together, we learned to concentrate on our goal, but, more importantly, we learned that the most powerful tool we have to work with is each other. We learned to listen to other perspectives; we learned to be careful to communicate well, and we learned to be willing to hear other’s opinions and accept advice.

Spring arrived at last, and our boat refurbishment was finished. We celebrated: Ann’s boat was ready for the water!

To the Water

This sailing season, over the course of nine blissful summer evenings, twenty-eight people have experienced sailing: youth and adults; members of First Presbyterian Church; and members of the Oklahoma City community; those who had sailed before, and children who had never been on a boat. All will carry a lasting memory of the excitement and wonder of sailing:

  1. Friends, family, and acquaintances watched the fireworks of the Fourth of July from beneath sails only just filled by the light breeze.

  2. A lady of the congregation celebrated her birthday surrounded by family and church friends on the wood decking of the boathouse beneath the shade of a massive elm tree. She watched the sun set from the boat deck and described the evening as “the best birthday she had ever had.”

  3. People who have worshiped together in our congregation for years church together for years learned lovely new things about one another while manning the tiller and working the sails.

  4. A father struggling with depression and possible job loss, found peace sitting on the prow of the boat watching the waves slip by and meditating in the silence.

Looking Forward

Each person has discovered a different lesson, spiritual and physical, from the experience of sailing, but everyone has walked back down the gangway to the boathouse encouraged, and in this, our project has exceeded our expectations.

Photo courtesy of The Cross Timbers Foundation

Now summer is ending, and time nears for us to clean and store the boat for winter. We will look forward to the next sailing season, to the new lessons we will learn and share with others, and we look forward to the new people we will share this experience with!

The Presbyterian Sailing Program is made possible by The Cross Timbers Foundation of Legacy Global Foundation, Ann Kilpatrick and First Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City.

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