“And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
For many of us who grew up in the sixties and seventies, ‘Suzanne’ was an anthem, a song of mystery and depth, of wisdom and love. We sang it when we were sad, when we were waxing philosophic while silently wondering what on earth the song even meant, (not that we would ever admit that to each other). But it didn’t really matter, somehow we were taken along the waves, walking with the Jesus who looked for those willing to enter the waters, only to be taken into the depths. To be honest, I still don’t get the song, but after going sailing this weekend, I understand more about the nature of water that could be walked upon.
Maybe not of water made of the hydrogen and oxygen molecules, but of the waters that for those of us in the depth psychological world, speaks of the Unconscious, the numinous, the reality beyond our human senses. What Jung termed the Psyche, as the matrix of existence out of which all phenomena emerges is perfectly captured by the image of the ocean.
I found myself floating on these waters on a sailboat, anchored at the shore of a state park. Perhaps it was an optical illusion, created by the rays of the sun angled just right but I suddenly saw the water as both a liquid and a solid. I know something about density, how the water appears to be solid but it is due to the density of the molecules and how they are knit together. I know that displacement, mass, and volume combine to keep the boat afloat. And, I also know that if I had put my hand into the water, my hand would have separated those molecules, broken through the surface and gotten cold and wet.
But, sitting in the boat, I felt as though we were being held by a reality that was both flexible and pliant as well as solid and tangible. I could see how Jesus, as one exquisitely attuned to the reality of the Self, could simply step off the boat and walk to the other side of the bay. Not that I was tempted to try. But in this moment of psychoid clarity, as the sun was setting, I saw that what we talk about, the Self, the Psyche, the Unconscious, is more than the image and the words and the concepts and the theories. It is a dynamic and solid reality in which we are embedded where we can sink, swim, drown or walk. How profoundly humbling and strangely comforting!
Dr. Silvia Behrend is a Certified Pattern Analyst, educator and mentor