A man was shipwrecked, and found himself floating on a raft in the ocean.
Only a circle of sharp fins marked his spot in a fathomless ocean.
As he watched and waited, his thoughts turned sharply toward rescue.
He sent little messages floating out to sea and used whatever he had to attract as much attention as possible.
Hours and days went by. His food was gone, and water was getting low. Then suddenly he heard it — a ship’s foghorn.
He could see nothing, and he certainly wasn’t safe. But something had changed. He had no help yet, but hope was born.
About an hour and a half later he thought he saw a ship’s form in the mist. Initially he could not tell which way it was going. But as the speck grew, he saw it was headed straight toward him.
Hope grew. As the silhouette took shape on the horizon, he yelled and waved, willing someone on the ship to see him.
Nothing had changed, really. He was still in the water. He wasn’t safe yet, and had not yet been seen. But hope was a possibility.
The ocean-liner loomed, advancing as though to run him over. The ship passed so close to him he could feel the salt spray as its hull sliced the sea. But no one saw him in the foamy wake, and his hope was nearly extinguished.
As the ship pulled away, a sailor scrubbing the rigging spotted the shipwrecked man in the water.
Mops and brushes flew as the deckhand screamed, gestured frantically, then disappeared. The ship shrank into the distance, and the despair again threatened the waterlogged survivor. But the sailor reappeared with a whole collection of shipmates — all of them now pointing at the dot the bobbing man had become.
The survivor heard a change in the engine whine; the huge vessel began to rotate. And hope returned.
The man’s life was still at risk! There were still the sharks to avoid and swaying rope ladders to climb, but the happy survivor never considered those intrusions. Hope had come home to stay.
Hope offers us a buoy in life’s ebb and flow.
We see it in a woman who tosses stranded starfish into the water. Spiritual writings even claim that a need for hope is what leads humans into faith. Said Martin Luther, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”
Teardrops sometimes distort the view from our soul’s windows. But as we wait and hope, could we perchance toss a few hopes to someone else?
Hope can sustain us in the midst of nothingness. After all, everyone has experienced being adrift in heavy seas!
We can’t change depth of the ocean, nor calm all the swells that threaten to submerge us.
But until a rope ladder appears over the side of a rescue ship, could we consider shouting encouragement to sinking fellow travellers?
I hope so.
Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Advisor.