Monday, December 22, 2008

Minor Triumphs

By Sarah Albrecht

It’s three days before Christmas, but this isn’t a Christmas post. Amidst the holiday confusion of reverence and stress, the muse hasn’t struck. So this isn’t a Christmas post. It’s a bird post.

A parakeet post, actually. That’s because several days ago I trimmed my parakeet’s beak. I’ve had parakeets most of my life, but this was the first time one of my birds’ beaks ever grew too long. The beak became monstrous, actually, curving and scaly like a rusted scimitar poking into poor Gordy’s green chest. Ew.

I had no idea how it happened, being a faithful hanger of cuttlebones and sprinkler of gravel on the cage floor. One day the beak was just too long. Was this vet-worthy? I wondered and vacillated, not being a subscriber to parakeet insurance. Somehow Gordy managed to eat and clamber, but I knew something had to be done.

Finally the other day I walked into the bathroom—yes, due to cat issues we keep two parakeets in the master bathroom—and snapped. Grabbing a pair of fingernail clippers and a washcloth, I took a deep breath and approached the cage. “This won’t hurt a bit,” I cooed, sliding open the door and inserting a washcloth-draped hand. Gordy didn’t believe me and exploded into squawking green fireworks.

Persistence paid and I caught her, gently, and proceeded with the trim. When I finished, both of us felt a bit shaken. However, not being a farm girl accustomed to animal husbandry and the like, I felt a bit heady also. I clipped the beak!

It was a Minor Triumph.

I like Minor Triumphs, little surprises that pop into days often filled with perplexing problems that require long-term efforts to solve, or at least manage. Small or quirky as they may be, they are still triumphs, worth a little smile and a lingering savor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pain and Balance

by Sarah Albrecht

Several months ago I noticed some hip pain that felt like I’d “strained, not trained” when exercising. The pain worsened a bit over time, enough to require some aspirin every afternoon. After a couple of months, I decided this wasn’t going away on its own and went to the doctor. He also figured something was up but didn’t know what, so he sent me to my first visit with a physical therapist. After an evaluation, she concluded that my piriformis muscle, which runs from inside the pelvis and wraps around the hip, had somehow become inflamed. Inflamed piriformis muscles typically squeeze the sciatic nerve, causing more pain.

The therapist assigned a series of stretches and exercises to relax and strengthen the muscle. They felt good and the pain began incrementally decreasing. After several visits with several therapists, I saw the original therapist again. She assigned a new exercise regimen, then added in a side note: “Oh, and you should be sitting and standing with your weight even. No standing with your weight shifted to one side.”

It seemed intuitive and I felt silly that I hadn’t thought to do that myself. I went home, and over the course of the day I noticed how many times I stood with my weight unevenly distributed and faithfully corrected my posture. By the end of the same day the minute shift in my posture had helped my hip feel dramatically better. I couldn’t believe it.

I thought how, in life, targeting areas where I am “hurting” with specific “exercises” may help, but the exercises become much more effective if I am balanced as a whole and standing tall. And even tiny changes in balance can make a big difference.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Consider the Lilies

by Sarah Albrecht

I'm feeling a bit abashed to be posting again, but here it goes anyway.

Recently I heard a radio interview of two esteemed American poets (yes, esteemed, but I can’t remember their names). At one point the discussion turned to the preoccupation with death in poetry and in literature in general. One of the poets joked that to major in literature means to major in death. Another explained that as beauty in poetry frequently stems from contemplation of death, so we find real flowers more beautiful than silk ones because the real flowers’ beauty is fleeting; in other words, they are beautiful because they are dying.

As is my wont, I disagreed with that assessment but took several days to formulate my thoughts coherently—way too late to call in to the show and comment!

Now, this may seem a tangent, but I’ll get back to the point. Sometimes when I go to bed and need to put my brain in neutral, I make up top ten lists. Top ten favorite movies, top ten favorite places I’ve visited, top ten times I’ve been awed by nature. One of my top, top ten lists is to think up my favorite memories of flowers. I imagine the warmth of a North Carolina afternoon in the Biltmore gardens as bees hum around small purple puffs; I think of the breeze on a Northern California boardwalk entangled by delicate vines with scoop-shaped pink blooms; I smell violets lurking in the shade of my otherwise disreputable newlywed apartment building.

Invariably, as I close my eyes and extract memories for the list, I find myself on a bracing day several years ago, walking with my husband and young children down a wet, hard-packed path just out of sight of the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sea air curls around us and heightens every sense. Redwoods shade the path and the deep, russet soil on its sides into perpetual moisture. We come around a bend into a field of white calla lilies, stark and smooth against the deep greens and browns of the forest. For the first time I can picture the lilies of the field, how they toil not, neither do they spin, yet surely Solomon in all his glory could not have been dressed as one of these.

Now I return to the original idea and dispute with the esteemed poet: real flowers are not more beautiful than the artificial because they are dying, but because they denote there is a God. True, in them may lay the poignancy of death and the shortness of life, but in their intricate simplicity lies the mark of the loving Creator and therefore the hope of life renewed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Expect the Unexpected

I’ve been thinking lately about answers in unexpected places. One of the first unexpected places that comes to mind is the garbage, where (I’ve heard) Alexander Fleming, a British bacteriologist, found a discarded Petri dish with the mold penicillin holding staphylococcus bacteria at bay. So began the answer to treating infectious bacteria.

I think often of another unexpected answer that came two years ago, the year my older son missed eighteen days of fifth grade. Germs seemed to flock to him, and, by extension, the rest of our family. The school office started dropping hints about his truancy.

I looked for answers in the expected place: his pediatrician. Could we do anything to boost his immunity, I asked. No, she said, some kids just come like that.

A few months later I took the kids in for their routine dental checkup during a rare break when no one was sick. The dentist called me in to look at my son’s teeth. “They’re eroding too fast,” she said, and suggested either pop or stomach acid as the culprit. To my children’s chagrin, about the only time we have pop in the house is after they’ve gone to Safeway with their dad for a frozen pizza run and detoured through the soda aisle. Therefore I knew stomach acid must be the guilty party in my son’s mouth.

The dentist sent us to a gastroenterologist to check for acid reflux. What the GI found was eosinophilic esophagitis, a food allergy disease in which white blood cells attack the esophagus when allergens are present. Acid reflux is a side effect.

So my son spent all of the fifth grade sick because his immune system was busy somewhere else.

And the answer to the problem, or at least the beginning of the answer, came from the dentist.

Of course answers in unexpected places aren't always so dramatic; they may simply come as quiet direction, like a soft breeze on a still day. Whatever the case, I find the thought of unexpected answers both inspiring and comforting. Maybe, if I’m living well, I can be someone’s unexpected answer. And hopefully, if I’m living well, I can recognize the unexpected answers in my life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Alone in the Water

By Sarah Albrecht

Two simultaneous classes ran during a recent session at my preschool daughter’s swim school: hers, and a mom and tots class. The last day of the session, only my daughter and one little boy that looked about two came to their respective classes. The little boy had cried through every class.

Today was no different; in fact, it was worse. For this final class, and according to normal procedure, his mother didn’t come into the water with him so that he could experience working through the various activities with someone else. He hated it. He hated it so much she had to leave in order to not be a distraction.

Near the end of class, as the little boy wailed, I stepped into the small adjacent office to fetch a tissue for my daughter. The boy’s mother sat on a white resin chair just inside the door, a lovely woman with long dark hair and sculpted cheekbones, her hands clasped tightly between her legs. She was carefully monitoring her son while just as carefully staying out of sight because his progress in the essential skill of swimming depended on her absence.

Most parents have experienced similar situations. Since I witnessed rather than participated in this one, though, I could see the big picture more objectively. In fact, it reminded me sharply of our loving Father, sitting just out of sight to monitor our progress in essential growth while we, not understanding the trial in the larger scheme of life, feel alone in the water.

I like to picture Him there.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Overcoming The Weeds Of Life

Valerie J. Steimle

I had the chance to get outside and do some yard-work today. After some weeding in the front flower bed and edging with the weed eater on the side of the house, I had to tackle the weeding of a rose bush I had planted a few years ago.

I hadn’t realized the time had gotten away from me and those weeds had grown so fast over my low growing bush that I could barely see the bush itself. During the blossom season, there were beautiful pink blooms popping everywhere. Now the weeds had over taken it and I had to save it from the invasion.

After pulling the weeds away, it was amazing to find how well my rose bush did. I was very pleasantly surprised how my struggling rose bush was growing so well even with those fast growing weeds all around and over it. It was just growing like crazy. I thought this would hinder the growth. The bush looked as if it wouldn’t have grown at all. It looked as if it would have been smothered. But it flourished and grew anyway. New shoots had grown all over and I actually had to cut it back.

I had to reflect on this idea because humans are so very vulnerable to trials and challenges. We meet bumps in the road or very fast growing weeds and it discourages us from going any farther. How many times have we had the weeds of life come upon us and try to smother us and we just keep growing? How many times do we let those challenges in our life overtake our attitude of “we can get through this” and do it with a smile? Many times we let unimportant setbacks ruin our day of other wonderful accomplishments. I’m guilty as well and need to take a lesson from my own rose bush. Don’t let the weeds of life pull you down so much you don’t follow through on your goals in life. Don’t let the weeds of life over come your worthwhile life of family, friends and the gospel.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Loaves and Fishes

by Sarah Albrecht

I love to read the story of the loaves and fishes from the New Testament and to imagine the multitude being taught and then fed by the Savior. I love the often-heard interpretation for our own time, that the Savior is merciful, and if we come, He will feed us bountifully.

At a time when I felt utterly inadequate in almost every aspect of my life, as if whatever I had to offer was not enough, another application flashed into my mind.

It came as I sat bent over a children’s version of the story with my little daughter. When I saw the picture of a plate with a loaf of bread and a few small fishes, I suddenly thought of who had supplied the Savior with the food with which he fed the masses: not a merchant or a fisherman; not a baker or an innkeeper accustomed to feeding groups, but a boy. He probably brought the Savior his own lunch, or maybe he’d been out getting dinner for his family. In any case, it wasn’t much, and certainly not enough to feed everyone.

But here’s the key: he offered what he had, and with the Lord’s help, it was enough. The realization swept through me like a sudden breeze, cleansing the stagnant despair and leaving a brightness of hope and a confidence rooted on the surest foundation.

If I offer all I have, with the Lord’s help, it will be enough.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Practicing What We Preach

One day about 15 years ago when my number two son was eight, he and his older brother were out playing with some friends in the apartment complex we lived in at the time. It was a chilly day in early October. Back then, money was very, very tight and we had four kids at the time, so we had to make do with very little. Even still, we were blessed with everything we needed.

That afternoon when the boys came in for dinner, I noticed that T.J., my number two son didn't have his jacket on. We had only bought the jackets a few weeks before, so I was pretty concerned. I asked him where his jacket was. He told me he gave it to one of his friends. Both my husband and I immediately got upset because we had so little as it was, and for him to simply give his jacket away was too much.

"Why in the world did you give your jacket away?" I asked him, trying not to raise my voice.
T.J. looked at me and answered simply, "Because he was cold and he didn't have one."

His simple and humble answer stopped us both cold and we were instantly chastened and humbled ourselves. How many times had we said to our children that we need to help others in need? And there we were, getting upset over a mere jacket.

From that moment on, we vowed to practice what we preach to our children, and we have tried to set those Christlike examples whenever possible. And even though we are still far from perfect, the lessons learned from our children bring us a little closer. We will never forget that they are always watching and we are their example.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What do you want to leave behind?

This past month has been an interesting one as we’ve parched through my parents’ possessions.

It’s been a lot of tears as we’ve remembered the good times, and laughter as we relived the adventures, There was stuff to throw away and stuff that we took into our homes cherishing it for the next generations. But mostly for me, it was a time of learning and understanding.

One neighbor kiddingly came over to ask if we’d found anything shocking or of noted interest as we went through their things.

“No”, we responded, “They were pretty much who we had always believed them to be.”

We found love letters to each other and journals that expressed their thoughts and feelings. We found boxes and boxes of pictures that captured every worthwhile memory and some that we wish hadn’t been captured. We found temple clothes and patriarchal blessings, notes and letters from each of us and pictures we’d drawn – all stuff that would have been boring to the outside world (no novels to write here) but all things that gave us comfort nonetheless knowing that our parents had loved and cherished us and given us a good life based on eternal principles.

It wasn’t until I got home, though, along with all of my mothers papers that I did find something shocking – something that I’d never known about her. As I opened one of her boxes, I found her most cherished collection – one none of us had ever known she’d even had.

We’d known about her Santa collection and about dad’s book collection but this was something that was near and dear to her heart that in the quiet of her room dictated her loves and desires.

For years in her nightstand I’d seen a highlighter and a small pair of scissors and had wondered why she kept them there because I’d never seen her use them. Of no great consequence,….until I had opened this box.

Inside, placed lovingly were hundreds of clippings out of the Church News of a feature called ‘Applying the Scriptures’.

For the better part of 20 years, my mother had carefully cut these little features out, highlighted the things that stood out to her and had then gone to the scripture referenced and used that as a study guide as she studied. More notes had been made in the margins of her scriptures as she gained further insight.

Suddenly this box full of what at first appeared to be nothing more than a collection of recyclable goods, took on whole new meaning and gave me insight into a part of my mother’s life that I had not know before.

She had not made it a public practice of showing that she had done the right things but had simply and quietly just done them. And I, nor any of my siblings, had ever known the deep commitment and faithfulness with which she had lived her everyday life in this one area until after her death when I so fortuitously had stumbled upon her most prized collection.

The whole experience made me really think about what I want to leave behind. What do I want those who come after me to find that will dictate my life, passions and desires? And furthermore, what do I want to collect for my own personal enjoyment rather than for the sake of the world?

I also have to admit though, that I can’t wait to see my mom’s neighbor again so that I can tell him that I did find something shocking that gave me new insight into who my mother really was.

I will also gladly share with him that her heart, passions and desires were more than I ever could’ve dreamed of and that I can only hope to follow in her footsteps one day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We Came to this World to Sing

Senor Morales, my most-wonderful high school Spanish teacher, made his classes memorize one stanza from the Argentinian epic poem Martin Fierro. If I remember right, it went like this:

Cantando me ha de morir
Cantando me ha de enterar
Y cantando me ha de llegar
Al pie del Eterno Padre.
Desde el vientre de mi madre,
Vine a este mundo a cantar.

Roughly translated, it reads:

I will die singing
I will be buried singing
And I will arrive singing
At the foot of the Eternal Father.
From my mother’s womb,
I came to this world to sing.

I told my husband that if I could substitute “writing” for “singing,” the poem would describe me to a T. Basketball would suit him, he answered. In a sense, writing is my song, basketball his.

All of us come to this life with some passion, some drive, something that brings us joy or satisfaction in the doing. Something that we came to this world to do. Most of us get swamped with daily tasks and burdens and struggle to find space for the passion we arrive with.

Of course it’s impossible to ignore obligations. But what did you come here to do?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Wish for One Thousand Children

I’m no decorator, but Spanish colonial style speaks to me and I’ve tried imitating it in my home. A pair of Ecuadoran rustic figures carved from dark wood sits on my living room mantle near an imitation piece of Talavera pottery I picked up in Nogales. Two large scenes of Mexico painted by my deceased dad flank the room’s single long window. The room makes me happy.

Last Christmas we took our family to Hong Kong. One day, my friend there took my teenage daughter and me into a porcelain shop on a narrow, crowded street, and from the cheapest machine-stamped pottery at the front to the finest, glass-encased porcelain in the back, I was enchanted. A smiling woman with a large gap between her front teeth and a fuschia blouse directed me to possible items to purchase. “This-a-one,” she said, removing a wide, flat bowl from a case in the back, “flower mean long life, okay?” It was beautiful. How to decide between it and all the other enticements? I took mental note and kept looking.

Finally, the attendant brought a smaller bowl shaped like a three-dimensional “U,” the letter’s serif becoming a lip around the top edge. She held it up for the light to pass through, demonstrating the higher quality of the piece, but what captivated me was the artwork. In full color, little Chinese boys swarmed across the surface playing mah-jong, swimming, climbing trees, pulling sticks. As far from Spanish colonial style as it could be, the bowl also spoke to me and I knew over all the selection in the store, I had to have this one.

That evening, in our friends’ apartment twenty-four floors above the city, I showed the bowl to our host. He turned it in his hands. “It means, ‘Wish for One Thousand Children,’” he said, pointing to Chinese characters at the top. “It says right here.” The wish captivated me as much as the piece itself. Children can come closer to the core of one’s heart than anyone or anything but deity.

When we returned home, I placed the bowl on its rosewood stand on the other side of the mantle from the rustic Peruvian figures, not sure if it really belonged in the room at all, but I needed it to be where I could see it.

I walked past the bowl several times a day. As months passed, it reminded me of our trip, but it also kept me mulling over the wish for one thousand children. What exactly did that mean? No one can expect to have one thousand children or even an extended posterity that large in this lifetime. A wish for one thousand children must have meant a wish for posterity enduring over the years, I thought.

Finally, at the end of May, as I walked through the living room and looked at the bowl as usual, I realized what my subconscious had known all along. The palette of colors used in the bowl was the same as the color palette my dad used in the paintings of Mexico on the wall. Unconsciously, I must have selected the bowl as much for its colors as I consciously did for its subject. Of course the bowl belonged in that room.

Somehow, I was sure, my realization had something to do with the wish for one thousand children, because it had to do with family. My dad has been gone for eleven years, but just as the bowl reminds me of family and children, his paintings surround me and remind me of him--and the colors in both sing together.

Could the wish for one thousand children somehow work both ways? Could it simply be a wish for a family tied together, past and future?

I wasn’t sure if that’s what the Chinese meant, but it worked for me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What Inspires You?

Valerie J. Steimle

The writer's group I belong to have been discussing an interesting topic: What inspires you to write? I took on a different outlook and thought: What inspires you at all in your life?
What inspires you to do better at your job every day? What inspires you to care for your family, friends or neighbors? What inspires you to save a person in harms way or send a note to a grieving friend? It is food for thought and I think what we experience in life might also inspire us to do better.

The entertainment world has a great influence over us because we like to be entertained. We like to watch movies and TV and what we watch in the entertainment world could inspire us to be better. I think that is why the media is so important to us. It has the influence to sway us in one way or another.

Those who have been following the presidential race is inspired to make a decision on which person would best fill the job. Watching those two men find that lion after it lived in the wilderness for so long fascinated everyone. It was inspiring for me and very heartwarming that two humans could be recognized by an animal after living in the wild for that long of time.

An event that I look forward to every four years besides the presidential election is the summer Olympics. This year the Olympics are in Beijing, China and the opening ceremonies are on Friday night. You have to wonder what inspires a person to compete in sports so much that they are able to travel to a place on their own expense and push themselves to win competition after competition until they achieve the top of their event. It is amazing to me all the hours these athletes spend practicing to become perfect. It is truly inspiring and causes me to think about how I can improve myself in my own life. The discipline it takes to follow through on such a great goal makes us all seem insignificant but we should remember that we could do the same in our lives.

The day to day routine we have compares with the daily schedule of an athlete. What inspires us to keep going and do better in our life could be the same drive or determination in what these athletes have to get to the Olympics. Whatever it is that inspires us we need to keep doing it.
So the next time you feel mediocre and not willing to try, find someone or something to inspire you to do better. It will make all the difference in the world.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We Are All of Infinite Worth

In a world where there is so much heartache and a life that presents so many trials, there is still an abundance of joy. Sometimes it's hard to find the joy, but it is there, just waiting to be had. It is there for the taking, but in order to truly appreciate this life and all that comes with it, we need to know-without a doubt that we, each and every one of us, has a purpose for being here.

This past Father's Day was a hard one for my husband. Because of the trials we are facing with one of our eight children, as well as the day to day struggles with the ones that are still at home, he sometimes wonders if he is a good enough father. He wonders if he is a good enough husband. He wonders if he is truly measuring up. He wonders if he is making a difference. He wonders if he is worthy. On that particular day, all these worries were weighing him down.

I pondered about what I could say to help lighten his heart. I know his worth and I know that I could not make it without him. I thought about writing him a letter for Father's Day to let him know how much I loved him and God loved him. I prayed for a moment, then it came to me. I should write him a little story. Once I began, the words just came. Today I would like to share this story/parable with you in the hopes that if you or someone you love is struggling, that it might help to lighten your heart and help you to more fully understand that we all have a purpose here, that God loves and knows us, and wants us to have joy. It is personalized, so just mentally change the name.

The Love Of A Father

Once upon a time, in a world far away, there lived a man who loved his family very much. He was a good man who always tried to do what was right. He and his family lived in a beautiful palace surrounded by lush green trees, spacious grounds, and immaculate courtyards. Their children were different in temperament and personalities, but they were completely obedient.

One day the man and his wife were summoned to appear before their father for their final interview before leaving for the new world..

Son,” their father asked, “what is it that your heart desires most? Tell me and I will grant your wish.”

Well,” the man answered, “I wish to have this woman as my wife forever. I want my family forever.”

The father quietly pondered on his son's wish.

I will grant you your wish, son, but first you both need to know some things. The perfection you have here will not always be so. Your wife must face some personal trials that will lead her on a different path from yours for a while. She must suffer some things that will affect her emotionally and spiritually, thereby weakening her ability to feel the pull of your love.

She will marry another and make poor choices again and again. She will be swallowed up in the depths of despair and sink further than even she can imagine.

Then, one day, her inner light will fight to reach the surface once again. When that happens, her heart will hear yours. You will find her again and she will be yours. But with the joy of loving her will also come pain, for her own pain will forever run deep, and though your love will soothe the ache, it may never completely heal the hurts. Nevertheless, her heart will be completely and irrevocably yours.”

Their father paused, letting his words sink in. He looked at his son and noted that his expression had not changed.

All of your children are completely obedient now, but that will change as well. Some will remain obedient, a few will even radiate with it, while others will bring you trials so sore that your heart will literally feel like it is being broken in two. You will experience unspeakable joy on some days, yet you will also have countless sleepless nights. Your heart will be filled with gratitude for the children who choose wisely, and unceasing prayers for the ones who stray away.”

He paused and placed a hand on his son's shoulder and looked into his eyes intently. “It will not be easy, son. Now that you know this, is this still your wish?”

The man pulled his eyes away from his father's and gazed into those of his wife's, seeing the tears in them and reading in them what she did not say. He put an arm around her waist and pulled her close to his side. Then he turned back to his father.

I know it will be hard, Father,” he finally said, emotion in his voice. “But she is worth it, Father. She is worth everything. My family is worth everything.” He paused and smiled as a tear trailed down his cheek. “My wish has not changed.”

The father smiled and tears rose in his eyes. He held out his arms and embraced them both tightly, whispering, “Sean, my valiant son, I will see you and my precious daughter Jewel when you return.”

J. Adams

Copyright 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Greatest Lesson

by Paula Dawidowicz

Once I walked through green valleys
with a Father who loved me,
who nurtured deep within me
serenity, purity.

He told me that I had grown
as much as I could at home,
and I soon the Earth would roam
using lessons I’d there known.

But the lesson most to see
was selflessness blesses me,
so to learn true charity
He would Earth life give to me.

Let me serve well all I may,
Living to give more each day,
So I may to Father say,
Charity brings joy each day.

Once I walked through green valleys
with a Father who loved me,
who taught me there how to see
the pure joy of charity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weathering Life's Storms Together

In a world of confusion and change, there are many who are searching for the beacon light of hope. And even though constant stability is never a sure thing, we can find a strong foot hold as we weather life's storms together.

And that is what this blog is intended to do - to uplift and inspire those who are trying to find secure ground. It is our sincere hope that we, as authors and writers, can put our talents to good use and create a readable haven for those who need to find momentary peace, perspective, or simply rest a while before facing another wave of challenges.

In that vein, as the founder of this site I offer this - a short story I wrote in hopes that you will find your light to hang onto....

The Lighthouse
By Stacy Gooch Anderson

His face sunk into a stern expression as he slowly lowered the brass looking glass to his side. The old sea captain had agreed to take on one last voyage before he nestled into retirement finally able to enjoy the rest of his twilight years with his sweetheart. Years of reading charts and following an exacting seaman’s instinct however had not prepared him for the massive squall billowing on the horizon.

“It’ll take mor'an a wing an a prayer to get er through this'un,” he lamented to himself and the swirling winds being glad for years of experience from which he could draw.

He quickly shouted the orders to his crew and they jumped into action battening down the hatches, lowering the sails and tightening the winches. The old captain noted with satisfaction that having such a fine crew under his tutelage and an extremely seaworthy vessel, although not easily they’d surely ride out the storm. He just hoped it wouldn’t be a long one for if they were blown off course, the dangerous reefs lurking on the eastern coast could easily swallow them up before the storm ever would.

But that was not likely to happen – in all of his experience, no storm had ever lasted more than a day.

Night came upon the ship within moments of the storm. More than just a few hoped that the coincidence was not to be on omen of what darkness might possibly lay ahead. The old captain confident in his leadership, thought nary a second of the timing other than to almost savor the challenge this gale would provide.

For three days the vessel had been thrown over the peaks of the angry ocean without benefit of sunlight or a moment’s reprieve. The captain had grown weary not from the strain of his physical demands and lack of sleep but from the knowledge he harbored that those nasty eastern reefs were looming out there somewhere. With a storm like this however, pinpoint accuracy even for a seasoned chartist was impossible. And without benefit of visual landmarks, he feared for the lives of his passengers and his crew. It was a heavy burden indeed to carry upon his weathered and stooped old shoulders.

Finally succumbing to the realization that he could never deliver his precious cargo to safety through his experience and wisdom alone, battered by the gusts and salty water he stood firmly at his wheel and raised his voice to heaven.

“Lord, I know I’m a rough ol’ soul who’s mor’n a bit prideful and oft times neglec'ful of those things of import includin’ ye. But I been given charge of getting’ these here folks to a safe harbor and I been given it my best but for the firs’ time in all m’ days, I‘ve come across a tempest that’s mightier ‘n me and she’s a feisty one whose hell bent on throwing us into a mess I can’t get us out of. I’ve lost my bearings, Lord, and I need guidance. Could ye pull one more miracle out? Not just for an ol’ scalawag like me although I’d be mighty grateful but for all those others on this ship who need to find their way home to safety.”

The captain lowered his head and peered out into the darkness until he thought he saw a glimmer of something on the horizon. Could it be? It was so dim at first that he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him but it continued to grow steadily brighter until it became his sole focus point leading him through the darkness. He shouted his orders and made adjustments ever watchful of the light that kept them from harm’s way.

The light remained emblazoned on the horizon and the old captain, wondering at the light which continued to remain steady through the storm, kept steering his ship away from the dangers the beacon protected them from.

Three days later as they finally sailed safely into harbor battered but not beaten, the deck hands rushed aboard to help the crew unload.

“We’re amazed you were able to make it through that storm, Sir. Your survival speaks highly of your skills as a captain. We’ve seen a lot of debris wash up but you’re the first ship with life we’ve seen here at the docks. I must say, we’ve been quite disheartened. You’ve given us hope and bolstered our faith, ” one bantered as he pulled the rigging and helped tie the vessel down.

“Oh twasn’t me,” the old captain was quick to reply. “Twas that blessed lighthouse of yours down the shore who guided us to safety.”

The deck hand looked at the sea captain a bit perplexed. “Sir, that lighthouse was destroyed within the first hours of the storm. That’s why all the debris. We can’t even count how many ships must’ve gone down and lives lost in the last few days. That’s why your being here is such a miracle and has given us hope.”

The sea captain nodded as it dawned on him that it had been a heavenly light - not an Earthly one – which had led them through the storm, “Yes,… a miracle. Indeed it is seaman, indeed it is.”