Have you ever seen a sea otter raft? I need to work at acting less like a life raft and more like a raft of otters.
Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. Proverbs 17:17 MSGProverbs 17:17 MSG
Discovering a Sea Otter Raft
“Coming up on our left,” the captain said over the loudspeakers, “you’ll see a sea otter raft.”
The passengers rushed to look over the rail. Sure enough, the dark splotch coming into view in the white-capped waters morphed into dozens of sea otters. The boat slowed and the captain continued her narration.
“This sea otter raft looks like a group of females. Notice how the mothers have their young on their chests. When the waters get rough,” the captain continued, “sea otters even link arms with each other to create a studier raft. I’ve seen rafts with hundreds of individuals.”
I focused my binoculars and saw babies nestled against their mothers. Many of the otters had their eyes closed.
“Sea otters raft up for protection from predators, too,” the captain said. “From a predator’s perspective, a sea otter raft looks like a bed of kelp. This makes sea otters less vulnerable, especially when they have pups.”
As we drifted by, a curious otter or two looked at us. I noticed several sea otters holding hands.
“Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters don’t have blubber to protect them from the cold,” the captain said. “You might notice some of them clasping their hands in front of themselves, or even holding hands. Their sensitive paws don’t have fur to protect them, so they reach out to others to keep their hands warm.
Life Rafts for People
As the sea otter raft drifted out of sight, I couldn’t help but think about the last raft I’d been on.
While not exactly a life raft, the attributes remained the same. Filled with air, a slick surface, and if people didn’t watch out, the rapids in the river could bounce them into the water. If too many people fell off the same side, the waves could easily pitch the rest of the passengers into the water.
A sea otter raft operates more like a community. They raft up for protection from predators and storms. What would happen if we sought community more often when the devil lurks or the storms of life threaten to capsize us?
Sea otters can rest in each other’s presence. They don’t all sleep at once, but they can snooze when they need to—confident the other others will alert them to danger. No one sleeps on a river raft. What would happen if we acted more like a safety net for each other and worried less about how we appear on social media?
Sea otters reach out to others when their hands get cold, and they don’t reject an extended hand. Each time I’ve fallen off a river raft, helping hands have reached out to me. But the struggle to get back inside exhausts me. What would happen if we reached out sooner and kept an eye out for outstretched hands? How often do we try to go it alone, or ignore signs of stress in others?
As a member of God’s family, I want to operate like a sea otter raft and love at all times by providing community for others. I want to help my fellow travelers weather their storms.
What about you?