Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Easter reminiscence: Rescue at sea

At this holiest time of year, it is natural to be drawn to the seashore. Many of the Gospel passages place Jesus Christ’s whereabouts near the sea. I am a believer, and I feel His presence here. This is holy ground.

After the Resurrection, St. John writes, “Later, at the sea of Tiberias, Jesus showed himself to the disciples… Just after daybreak Jesus was standing on the shore, though none of the disciples knew it was Jesus… Then the disciple Jesus loved cried out to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’”

In another passage in the Gospel of St. Mark, he writes that “when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and (Jesus) was alone on the land. And He saw that they were distressed in rowing, for the wind was against them… He came to them, walking on the sea… He spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ And He got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded.’”

Two thousand years later, I walk along the water’s edge and remember the many times I cried out to the Lord from this very place.

A young newlywed, I recall the night my new husband and brother went fishing and did not return. I still remember the anguish, countless prayers and call to the Coast Guard. They were towed in by the Tiverton Harbor Patrol around midnight, after being entangled in the ropes of a lobster pot near Nannaquaket.

Thirteen years ago, I drove to the summer house on a glorious sunny summer’s day. When I arrived, I was told that my father and brother had taken my youngest son out on the sailboat. But out of the blue, there was a violent lightning storm.

We immediately drove down to the ramp, but they were nowhere in sight. We followed the Sakonnet River by car all the way to Nannaquaket, but all in vain. At this point, my mother, my daughter and I began crying hysterically. I prayed incessantly, pleading for God’s help.

We called the Coast Guard who had great difficulty understanding our plight because we were crying so hard. I called my husband back at home who raced to Tiverton.

After what seemed like hours, the Coast Guard called to say that the Tiverton Harbor Patrol had found them. The sun was shining when they were towed in.

The following fall, my 12-year-old son told the story of his rescue at sea in a school composition:

“My uncle and I and my grandfather were planning to use our sailboat. We watched the Weather Channel to see the weather forecast and the water currents. It said it was going to be fine weather to go sailing. We went to the docks at 9:30. The sun was shining, and the water was choppy. It was very good weather to go sailing. We had a small, 14-foot sailboat. We put it into the water, and my grandfather brought the car to the parking lot. My uncle and I got in the sailboat and waited for my grandfather. He came and our adventure started. Once we got out there, the wind picked up and we were having a good time. Then it started to pour. We were out on the bay, and we could not see anything. We had no idea where we were going. Then it started lightning, and we needed to get out of the water. We had an 18-foot aluminum sail. It was just like a lightning rod. We came upon an island, and we waited. An hour passed, then another. We were so cold and wet. We decided to go even though it was still lightning really badly. We were on our way back. Lightning hit the water right next to us. The wind died, and we were stranded in the middle of the ocean. My grandfather was soaked. We needed to get him warm. After a while, the Tiverton Harbor Patrol found us. So they gave us a rope, and I tied it to the front of the boat. It took them a half an hour to tow us in. We finally made it to shore. My mother was crying because she didn’t know if we would make it back. Everyone was so happy when we made it. After this, I will never believe the Weather Channel again. I don’t know if I will go on the sailboat ever again.”

Sometimes, the Lord walks on water and calms the sea, as well as our fears. Other times, He sends his angels, the Tiverton Harbor Patrol, to rescue us.

On this Easter Sunday and every day of my life, I know He lives.


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