Our good friend, Phil Westra, passed away last week from a massive heart attack. We first got to know Phil and Polly and their four children when we served Fulford United Methodist Church in North Miami Beach. He loved to sail, a stiff wind at his back; a purist who refused to put a motor on any boat at which he was at the tiller. He was a renaissance man who read voluminously, who loved God and was always looking for a way to make a difference with his life. Following the earthquake in Haiti, he went down to work with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee rebuilding homes and digging wells. Sally and I participated in his memorial service at Church by the Sea. One of Phil’s brothers, Steve, penned a poem in memory of his brother, which I read at the end of my homily. We will miss him.
Free the lines from their cleats, Brother, bow pointed to the wind with sails lightly set. Hold briefly the stern to the dock as the wind catches and sets you on your way. Stow the lines; you will be bound by shore no more. Choose your course through the harbor, Brother. The boats with bare masts in solemn salute pointing to the open sea. Breathe deep the salt air on the offshore breeze, awaiting the salt spray on your precious face. Leave no store on shore, Brother, you need return no more. Ride the tide and current from the harbor, green to your starboard. There will be no more red right returning. Your loved ones on shore will return to their homes in peace for you have loved us well. Feel the water on the hull, with your passion for the sea, your rail will soon be wet. Set your tiller, Brother, and off you go to the horizon, no more hard to lee. Steady as she goes, Brother. Steady as she goes.