We walked up to the next-to-highest deck, where we stood against the railing along with several other viewers, and looked out at the sea. It was rather early, but the sky itself was breathtaking, with its periwinkle timbre and innate peacefulness. Somehow seeing that much sky makes one feel small and insignificant, even while it fills you with inward quiet. Be still, and know that I am God. There is no better place to be still then in the magic of the wind and the salt-water and the sky all melding together into the majestic union of God's creation. As we watched, the sun began to shine its crimson glory into the pearly clouds of the East, building up slowly to the climax when the tip of its fiery arc appeared over the earth and seemed to race past the shimmering horizon and into the great blue heavens. Beautiful.
When the sun was completely risen Daddy and I returned to the comparatively dark and musty inner rooms, and joined the others in preparing for the church services. Arriving at eight o'clock in the belly of the boat, we sound-checked and had a very enjoyable time chatting with David Nasser, the speaker of the morning. He told us a little bit about his life as a refugee from Iran, and the amazing occurrences of his escape from that country. I was personally quite dumb-founded by the very swash-buckling nature of it all. Such miracles and adventure and peril are quite unheard of in our extremely blessed, free nation, and when tidings of the oppression and terrific events in the rest of the world always comes as a shock.
The services were so very blessed by God's spirit, and we all felt a quickening as we sang the profound lyrics of the old hymns and psalms and heard David Nasser's penetrating message on contentment and the gospel. He shared the story behind the writer of the hymn, 'It Is Well With My Soul'. Horatio Spafford experienced two major traumas in quick succession, one, the Chicago fire of the Autumn of 1871, in which he was ruined financially, and then, shortly thereafter, his four daughters were killed in a shipwreck out to sea. His wife, Anna, was the lone survivor, and sent him a telegram with the two words, "Saved alone." Spafford retraced the sea passage to the place where his daughters had drowned, and there, facing the seeming ruin of everything that he had built and held dear in his life, he wrote the deep-seated sapience of those amazing verses.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
That evening, we all gathered together on the deck of the ship to watch the last sunset of our journey across the ocean. The sun had accrued power in his day's work, and burnt fervently in the golden dusk of the sky. We all shielded our sensitive eyes as it slowly dropped toward the glassy mirror below it. I wondered if, before that fatal bite at the dawn of time, our bodies would have been powerful enough to take the light of a sun ten times the brilliance I saw. I looked down into the sea to ease the strain in my ocular engines, and wondered if there were mermen and selkies beneath me looking up at the same sunset, and arming their underwater kingdoms to guard against the sea-monsters that pervade that midnight murkiness. I often wonder what makes us so sure of ourselves as to trump the beliefs of the millions of intelligent, sane human beings who lived before us, and decide to discredit their records. You must think that if bald eagles, giant pandas, and the tigers of Asia are all going extinct in our generation, how many creatures have gone extinct in the course of the seventeen thousand years in the journey of this world? Such things are easy to muse about surrounded by the resplendence of God's creativity.
And that's the end of my maritime adventure! I hope you've enjoyed it!