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  • Writer's pictureMaj-Britt Johnson

Time for the Slack Tide

This is the time of year when ministers report feeling "crispy," as if their nerves are all bunchy and fried like onion strings left in the deep fryer too long. I'm not serving in a congregation any longer, but I remember that time well. And, of course, other jobs can fry you as well. Actually many of you are on vacation now, letting those frayed ends mend, and that's what has me thinking about "slack tides."

I live on the coast of N.C. in an area that, from the air, probably looks like an elaborate, multi-colored jigsaw puzzle. There are marshes, and bogs, and estuaries, and creeks, and several rivers, and then there's the Bogue Sound, and the Core Sound, and there are Channels, and Straits, and there's the Shackleford Slue - all of which are bodies of water living in close relationship to the Atlantic Ocean, with its rising and falling tides. I've always assumed that rivers and creeks run down to the Ocean, or at least run in one direction, emptying into some body of water, like a lake. They don't, not all of them, not when tidal water is involved. Before I moved here I'd never seen rivers and creeks change directions, racing first in one, then reversing themselves, to run in the opposite direction. But they don't turn on a dime. In between, as if making up their minds what to do next, the water spends some time slacking off.

"Slack water, also known as 'the stand of the tide' is a short period (about two hours) in a body of tidal water when the water is completely unstressed, and there is no movement either way in the tidal stream, and which occurs before the direction of the tidal stream reverses."

It's kind of amazing to be alongside, or better yet on, an ordinarily fast moving tidal creek and notice that it has become still. Makes me think of the reminder my yoga teacher gave us at least once, in every single class. And we needed the reminder, over and over again, because unlike the tidal waters we don't always do what nature intends us to do. To not just inhale, and exhale, but to stop, and pause, at the top of the inhalation, before beginning the exhale. And vice-versa. That is the most important part of the cycle, she said, the rest.

I wish for all of y'all a good rest, a nice easy slack tide before the current comes to steer you down the river again.

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