The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.
This Rembrandt painting was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum thirty years ago this week. It depicts Christ and the Twelve Apostles in a tiny boat, on a raging sea.
The storm is enormous, the Apostles are terrified, Christ is calm.
Back in the day, I was a young art student in Boston, and I saw this painting on my first visit to the Gardner. I can testify that if you were lucky enough to experience this painting in-person, you remember it vividly: the staggering wave, the little boat tilting in peril, stretched sails, taught ropes, the terror and struggle of men in action, deep shadow, dark clouds, golden light and the sudden discovery of Christ in tranquility, anchoring the painting, weighting the vessel and the moment with his startling repose.
The painting’s empty gilt frame still hangs on the wall of the Gardner, waiting for “it’s heart to return home.” The epic work is missing, but those who saw it remember the triumph. Storm on the Sea lives on in us. At certain moments we can summon that transformational power and beauty.
So this week marks thirty years without Rembrandt’s masterpiece. I heard the Gardner curator on the radio, talking about the crime and the loss. The theft haunts him, he still cries about it as if it happened yesterday. I think he remembers the painting because it changed his life, and he knows that it has the power to change more lives, and so the loss hurts more. Rembrandt helped him and others discover something powerful about belonging, strength and purpose in this life.
It occurs to me that Outward Bound is like Rembrandt’s missing masterpiece.
Those who experience Outward Bound, remember discovering calm in the storm. Rembrandt invites us to crew the little ship along with the Apostles– they are certainly “crew, not passengers.” People who have experienced Outward Bound know what it is to endeavor together, to lean into strengths, to grasp hope in the struggle, to triumph.
We can live life without The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, but should we? Should we live without this superb reminder of hope and beauty?
Can we live without Outward Bound?
Maybe the teen battling with her parents and struggling to make good decisions will find another way forward. Maybe the isolated and discouraged youth will discover belonging and confidence by some other means. But maybe Outward Bound is their best way forward. Maybe Outward Bound is the perfect sort of calm for their storm.
We don’t want Outward Bound to disappear like Rembrandt’s masterpiece.
There are eleven Outward Bound schools across America, and each one of them is being hit very hard by the Coronavirus Pandemic and our school, Voyageur Outward Bound, here in Minnesota, is no exception.
For the time being, we can’t serve students and we have to wait out the storm. COVID 19 is taking a toll on education, the economy and our community, and, again, VOBS is no exception. We teach people, we employ people, we serve our community. We need to weather the storm for our students, our employees and our community. These are uncertain times, and it’s all hands on deck to stay the course. Like Rembrandt’s Apostles, we need you.
Our students, our staff and our community need you to fight for the future.
You inspire us and give us hope, and we need to do the same for the young people who will lead us into the future. Please join our crew and keep Outward Bound afloat for our students, and our future.
Please join the crew
Help VOBS weather the storm
Thank you for joining our crew and leading with compassion.