As a boy, my dad taught me to sail. I loved it. We sailed often. When I married and started raising a family, our first recreational purchase was a 16′ catamaran. My children will recall many, many exciting memories of sailing through the surf in the Gulf of Mexico. With crashing waves and strong wind, catamaran sailing is more thrilling & exhilarating than the most extreme roller coaster. I still have a 19′ Nacra sitting in the garage.
At the not so advanced age of 63, my days at sea are no longer frequent. But…..with whispers of nude sailing, my windy, watery sport may be winging its way to new life.
Hearing Restored With Nudity
A few days ago, I was outfitted with hearing aids for the first time. My doctor is an attractive woman, somewhere in her thirties. She applied the miniature devices to my ears. A round disc shaped object was hung from my neck. I was seated in front of another and larger disc. Wires were strung from both these devices, connecting them to a computer. Testing, programming and fine tuning began. The doctor: “Sally sells sea shells on the sea shore. How did that sound?” And so it went.
Between adjustments and repeated tests, we small talked. Until….she said something about sailing. Rarely, do you run into a fellow sailor. Once she knew of our mutual hobby, the fitting stopped and she began regaling me of her maritime adventures. They had begun at age 9 on the Chesapeake Bay. She recounted her sailing history; the lessons, the boats, the storms, the fun, the excitement. Right up to this past weekend.
Then this: “Last week I was in a NUDE sailing competition with my daughter.” I had been listening with great interest. Now my attention was riveted. NUDE SAILING? What the heck! She said it so casually that it wasn’t appropriate to drop my jaw. But, mentally, my jaw dropped completely open. NUDE SAILING? A BARE NAKED COMPETITION?
Suddenly, visions were dancing in my head. Not of sugar plums, something else instead. Naked on a small sailboat? With others all about? How do you do that? What does it look like? Pulling the rudder, trimming the sails, holding the sheets. Bending and twisting in the waves and the wind. Sunscreen? Tan lines? Coed? What?? NUDE SAILING??? And, a competition, to boot?
But, wait, maybe the new devices weren’t working well. Maybe I just misheard. Could it have been crude, or prude, or lewd? Wait a minute. Now, I’m just thinking of things that might be connected with NUDE.
Not missing a beat, she kept talking. Then, my thoughts went back 30 years. My dad, my 3 brothers and I rented a large sailboat in the Caribbean. For 7 days we sailed from one island to the next. The little French isle of St. Bart’s held an eye-popping surprise. We anchored in a small uninhabited cove. Beautiful water, beach, vegetation. Another boat pulled into the same protected harbor. Maybe 50 yards away.
Before long, everybody on our boat had detected something intriguing about their boat. We were clad in swimsuits. They were clad in none. Necked they were. I didn’t want to stare, with my dad and brothers there. But….I wanted to stare….just like my dad and brothers, who were there. So, we all stole furtive glances until sunset.
Finally, my curiosity couldn’t be contained. Timidly, I queried, “The hearing aids might need more adjustment. I’m sure this can’t be right, but did you say NUDE sailing?”
Her response was a mischievous giggle. Uh…oh….what now? I’m just getting hearing aids, right? I hope?
Chuckling, she replied, “I did say nude sailing. But, that’s N…O…O…D. It stands for National Offshore One-Design.” We got a good laugh out of the misunderstanding. Now, we both knew that my hearing was crystal clear.
New, but Not NUDE, Couple in the Hood
A few years ago, my wife and I sponsored a get-together for National Night Out. We distributed flyers, set out chairs & tables, ice cream & treats. Two men walked up our driveway and politely introduced themselves. They had recently moved into the neighborhood and hadn’t met many neighbors, yet. They were a delightful COUPLE. That’s right. They were a gay couple. The first one that I’d ever met. And….they had 2 adopted children. Within a few short months they had moved away.
This encounter got me thinking about the Mormon church’s stance on gay people. Would accommodations ever be made to allow room for them in our religion? My wife and I discussed it. I don’t know why I spent time considering the issue. I just did. Finally, I came to the conclusion that somehow changes would have to be made. Somehow gay couples would have to be included. Because….there are children involved! Jesus made a point to point out that he loves all children. Without the parents, these children would likely remain unreachable. Children are treasured much more by the Savior than any policy.
Little did I know that the church would soon move in the polar opposite direction.
The New, and NUDE, November Policy
November 2015 held a shocking surprise. A church wide policy was announced. Gay couples, who have the audacity to engage in legal and lawful marriage, would be declared apostate. Children of gay parents were to be stripped of their right to baby blessings, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and temple attendance.
A friend of mine is married to the love of her life. Two women with five children between them. Their darling family of 7 were active believing members. In faith, this couple had managed to cope with the church’s stance on being gay. How much faith does THAT require? I can only imagine the difficulty. Never-the-less, their righteous desire was to see their children raised in the church.
November changed all that. The edict from Salt Lake City crushed their faith. This precious family of 7 no longer attends. A few days ago, the bishop contacted my friend to schedule their disciplinary council. Insult added to injury.
This new policy has been dressed up as a pronouncement of love & protection for the little ones with gay parents. But, when all the rhetoric is stripped away, it’s a just a NAKED program of rejection, exclusion and stigma.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus gently counseled that the pathway to heaven was traveled by reaching out to the “least of these.” Two thousand years later, we have resorted to casting them out.