A Risky Ocean Voyage

The winds of grace are always blowing: all we need to do is raise our sails. —unknown

Lisbon to Philadelphia, December 1943

Excerpt from Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths, Volume 1 Chatper 45: Confident Shoes Trusting the Captain

“There were 13 passengers aboard the Saint Thomas… the crew was small, and to my dismay, did not include a doctor. I made it a point to talk to the man in charge of the dispensary. ‘Could you deliver a baby should my wife go into labor?’ I asked.

“His reply was anything but reassuring. ‘Frankly, I don’t have a clue as to what to do.’

“By now I was an experienced father, but by no means a doctor…

“On Christmas Day the ship stopped moving. Apparently there were motor problems… It seemed strange to be just riding the waves…

“A large dinner was served at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but we chose not to attend. We were quite satisfied with our cramped little cabin with only two bunks. Philip and Joanne slept on a bench and Buddy on the floor. The ship had taken a southern route so, thankfully, the children could spend New Year’s Day playing on a sunny deck, which they had to themselves since the other passengers were sleeping in.

“A few days later, as we neared the American coast, the ship turned northward. The sunshine faded into a steady rain, while clouds darkened and hung angrily overhead, stirring up wind and lightning. The ship leaned from side to side, creaking and twisting as if the waves and wind were tearig it apart. Then, in the midst of the tempest, we realized that we were going backwards. What could be going on. Feelings of panic began to well up in the passengers.

“We needn’t have worried, however, because this Captain , who had weathered many a storm, had simply ordered a change of course. Was it because of the weather or because of the war? None of us passengers knew. Years later we larned that three out of ten ships went down in those waters.

“At lunchtime I was walking down the hall toward the dining room when the refrigerator doors broke loose. By the time I entered the room, food was sliding all over the floor. The place, though empty of people, appeared to be in shambles. It also appeared that I was one of the only passengers who’d still maintained a ravenous appetite. I took hold of the cabinet-sized radio to steady myself, then decided I might as well turn it on. Into the chaos around the triumphant singing blasted out:

“‘The cross, it standeth fast, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,

“‘Defying every blast, Hallelujah, Halleluh

“‘The winds of hell have blown; the world its hate has shown,

“‘Yet it is not over-thrown, hallelujah for the Cross.’

—Horatius Bonar

Joanne’s Comments

Nothing to add.

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