Do you have a wise guide?
A voice of steadiness in the storm?’
We had been adrift for many a day, huddled together for warmth in the cruel sanctuary of the lifeboat. The ice-rimed water that lapped about our feet was also what kept us alive, and threatened to end our travails, for the rains had been heavy for some three nights in a row. Luckily, the days had been the opposite, dry, if not warm, and allowing us to keep on top of the fine line between surviving, and diving forsakenly into the unforgiving ocean.
We had, it should be written, lost a few souls from our ensemble – they tended to leap at night when the fear became its worst – and had now, seemingly, settled upon a fixed number, with a fixed routine, and a fixed determination to at least try to survive our ‘peril upon the sea’.
But, in the darkness there was a light.
The light that shone for us was Pastor Tom, he spoke with a sage wiseness that filled our hearts with a glad warmth, and our minds with the hope of an attainable salvation. The trouble was, when he stopped speaking the darkness slowly began to creep back into our beings. The longer our trial lasted, the harder it must have been for him to stir us, for us to be stirred; and the easier it was for the feral black sea-dogs to bark mockingly at our weakenings.
When the real storm hit us, our fears at its powerful effects were realised. We had truly hoped that we should miss it, or it us; but, that scenario was not to be. Ee were adrift in an open lifeboat, hungry, sodden from exposure to the elements, and not knowing if this task was to be one task too many.
Pastor Tom raised his voice and fiercely abraded the storm with commands that it should abate, cease, desist.
He encouraged us to hold tight to our convictions, our dreams of reaching the safety of dry land, and to hold on even more tightly to the ropes that kept us in place upon this week and fragile vessel.
His voice kept us alive.
When the storm passed, an event barely noted, we, as one, said a prayer to whatever god we served, and let out a combined sigh of relief. Pastor Tom had got us through the storm, we would be saved, all would end well.
But, Pastor Tom, was no longer standing at the bow of the craft. He wasn’t within the lifeboat at all. He wasn’t with us in the shape of a person, but we could still feel his care and his love for us.
We did make land. Our bodies and our minds unalterably changed from our experiences. Our lives continuing, free to follow paths unthought of. But all of us carried Pastor Tom with us, for without him we would have perished.
No trace was ever found of Pastor Tom’s body. Perhaps the sea had claims upon it, or perhaps it washed up on a shore in some far off land. Maybe the fishes nibbled gently at his essence until he swam the oceans in the guise of a thousand true seafarers.
No trace of Pastor Tom was found in the records of the parish where he said that he preached. Only ‘I’ found this out.
‘When he was needed he was there; when he needed others, most turned away.’