The Journey

Like men of old of sail, becalmed, though not by lack of wind, we idle, ill at ease. I think of those who watched us sail from home; they would not think such change could come about. We were provisioned well; the boat was sound; the crew beyond reproach, but what we surely knew would see us through was this: a man whose faith had bred our own, and who had led a life of exploration on these seas and penned on careful charts each channel, shore and sound and every place where foolish man might run aground, this old man of the sea, in love (and maybe envy) of our youth and spirit, blessed us with his patronage. His maps and notes he had no further use for: they were ours. Long hours we sat into the night, we and the old man, and he told of journeys round the good land - hidden always, so he said, in such thick mists and buffeted by storms, that he had never set a foot upon its sand. Nor would he now. What hope remained, he would transfer to us. Our journey would not fail. In this perhaps we erred: we made one passing nod to science. We installed (to reinforce our faith in ancient learning - so we said) a radar set, and watched its one eye glare like Satan's at us on the bridge. We learnt to read (as best we could) its hieroglyphs, its shadows, points of light, which painted for us on its dark screen landscapes, barely seen in faint and unfamiliar images. Yet still we sailed, our expectations high, into a world of mists devoid of any shape we knew. Only in Satan's eye were patterns that made sense - but untrained eyes beholding sense (or seeming to) need help from what they know. We sought to verify the patterns, match impressions with the charts, but all the while in Satan's eye, it seemed the maps had lied: There was no way to reconcile the two. We tried, and trying, became prey to every shift of wind and tide. Irresolution had become the skipper of our crew. And so the great decision; how to tell the crew? The land, the object of the quest, eluded us. The good did not exist. The best, we'd found on board, in easy friendships. Who could now explain that what had made this so was less than true, and take the rich soil of the life they'd grown or telling them, part company from the best we'd known - and thereby be the cause of that old seaman's loss of pride? Faith for us now, if it can be, must be not in good causes, lives or better lands, but in those things that live and make their presence felt in mist and fog and storm, where lack of definition baffles indecisive man, where man encounters chaos, and in meeting it, finds form. D.K.
Last updated 14.8.2006