I’m straying a thousand miles from my usual Colorado adventures. Being a writer at heart, when things happen, events take place, or something just plain touches me deeply, I must write about it. The latter happened on a recent dream vacation.
|Blue as blue can be.|
This particular cruise ship is almost four football fields in length, so seeing it turn a circle is quite something. We were all watching, searching the calm sea for sign of this boat. Everyone had their cameras on zoom scanning the vast horizon for this boat. Speculation of the situation rolled through the crowd of voices.
Just a speck was spotted forward from the boat at about eleven o’clock. My husband Ron zoomed in as far as our camera would allow seeing people sitting on something. All those around us, wanted to see what his camera picked up.
The ship drew nearer moving at a snail’s pace. The excitement of this rescue at sea built stronger among the crowd gathered at the rail.
Our cabins were on the port side of the ship and we shared a balcony. Since it was difficult to see over so many heads, well…except for Ron who stands six-four, we went below to watch the rescue. We now had some great “seats” to watch this unfold.
From our balcony, we saw through our telephoto lens, four men positioned on a crude raft made from inner tubes likely tied together and covered with an old brown canvas. Towed behind, was another uncovered tube that held a make-shift sail and homemade paddles, all lying down; the sail being unnecessary since there were only light, soft ripples from a slight breeze on the sea around them.
The men didn’t look overly distressed, but the whole scene appeared to us – on our luxurious ship – to be one of desperation. There was no more room on that raft than holding those four men and a smattering of supplies. There would be no stretching their legs on that craft.
They had three hats on board, the kind that is woven out of wide blade grass. One of the men wore a long sleeve white shirt, the others had short sleeves. All wore shorts. I imagined myself with my beyond white Scandinavian skin color being stranded out to sea like that under a hot Caribbean sun, and how it wouldn’t take long to turn the color of an overly ripe tomato until I was sick from the heat. I could not imagine how these men felt before spotting our ship.
The ship was now at full stop. The water no longer stirred next to the stern where the engines added air to the water turning it a pale blue. We looked down when voices were heard and saw some crew members two decks lower as they readied the speed boat to go investigate the raft.
It was almost an eerie feeling being on this huge ship at a total standstill, nothing around us but the deep blue sea. So surreal it was looking at the situation of these men obviously desperate to flee a country that oppressed them so deeply that they could choose this current situation in the hope that they might find something better wherever the sea and the wind would allow them to go. And with the present state of the weather, only the water would steer their raft.
I tend to research things like this when it is a direct experience. I have a need to know more. In my attempt at understanding, I came upon an article that talked a lot about why so many thousands of people attempt this type of change in their lives. I learned that many die trying to cross the Florida Straits or they are killed by Cuban gunboats as they attempt to leave the island. The Cuban government touts their criminal records, not mentioning that many of the “crimes” are those practicing Christianity, or refusing to serve in a military of an oppressive regime, or if they had been deemed political dissidents, their “crime” was getting food from the black market in order for their family to survive.
And here we were on a luxury ship sailing away from our cares.
It was sobering.
Later in the week, the ship turned again. We watched from our balcony as another raft was circled. This one empty. Were they saved? Did they perish?
The sea was calm this day of rescue. But what of the days when the storms rage, when nothing about their escape seems to go right, when a leak occurs on the raft, when the waves are steep and slam into their poorly made raft, bouncing them into the air, desperately trying to hang on, food and water run out, when the sharks circle…
Then I thought of my own life. The lives of my friends and loved ones. What do we hang onto when the storms rage? How do we hang on?
The only way I know how. I leaned on the Captain of my life. The only One that can get me through these challenging times. The One that can steer me to the answers and provide the comfort and peace that I so desperately need. When at my lowest, I know that I can reach out to my Lord and tell Him that I can’t hold on any longer, that my grip isn’t strong enough to keep me from sinking into the abyss. Then I hear Him say in that still small voice, “I’ve got you. Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to let go!”