Sunday, October 30, 2011

As Aigéan ar a gcladach wintry (Of Ocean on his wintry shore)

The air is cold. Now, when I state that the air is cold, I actually mean that the air is much colder than it has been the past fortnight. The brothers and I have begun sailing on frigid waves. The maelstroms have begun to take on an icier identity, which seemingly does not bode well for my spiritual family sans the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, we know that we are to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (
Galatians 5.1a). Additionally, is it not written that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38b-39)? With that verse having been given, I am confident that not even the forthcoming maelstroms shall separate my brothers and me from that wondrous and indescribable love of God.


Now, the obvious conclusion to surmise is that the increasingly colder state of the ocean has generated more temptations to fall away from the mission (and thus, fall away from spiritual life in Christ). Well, that proposed result is founded in truth, and, indeed, it is fair. It would be unwise to believe that the brothers and I would embark on such a spiritually-encouraging journey without meeting challenges in waves. The brothers and I choose not to fear. After all, Satan once even tried to tempt our Lord, which was a predictable failure of an action from the onset (cf. Matthew 4.1-11). Certainly, it is written that the “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God (Ephesians 6.17b). It was by that powerful weapon that Christ our Lord gained an unquestionably great victory over that serpent of old (cf. Luke 4.8). Satan should have known better than to even contemplate baiting our Lord, let alone actually uttering such words of temptation. We serve a wise and mighty God, who has charged us not to “put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6.16). Having written of that divinely-ordained commandment, I nobly, yet humbly, choose to serve that Lord God without question and without temptation.

Yet, this weak servant of the Lord could use another source of spiritual strength. In such a seemingly-bleak state of mind, I am thankfully reminded by the First Book of Kings, chapters 17 through 21. In other words, the stories of the prophet Elijah could serve well to be that by which the Lord can sustain my spiritual sanity. Now, in the eighteenth chapter, Elijah has a great showdown between himself, representing the Lord of Hosts, and the northern tribes of Israel, which very much had succumbed to the evils associated with the Canaanite god Baal (cf. I Kings 18.20-40). When the prophets of Baal failed to see their animal sacrifice miraculously alit by the false god, Elijah not only sees his sacrifice to the Lord honoured, but also sees it alit despite the sacrifice being drenched in water (18.38). In the nation which the Lord had specifically chosen to be God over (cf. Exodus 6.7), a mediator of His sovereignty was necessary. Fortunately, as the Lord had undoubtedly foreseen, the pious prophet Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead (cf. I Kings 17.1a), was more than willing to answer the spiritual call. Such an influential prophet of the Lord was Elijah that the reader of the Holy Scriptures ought not to be surprised by his appearance at the Transfiguration of our Lord Christ Jesus on that anonymous and high mountain (Luke 9.30), along with Moses, whom God had used to grant the Israelites their freedom from corporeal bondage. It is the will of this petty servant of the Lord to strive to be as pious as the prophet Elijah, as mighty as the Lord Christ Jesus, and as perfect as our God.


On another subject I have recently pondered as this ship has sifted through these frigid waters, one wonderful consequence of the fulfillment of the innumerable prophecies through the incarnation of Christ is that the torah, the law, is no longer necessary, as especially Paul advocated and expounded admirably (cf. Romans 7.1-6). From this great occurrence, we realize that our Lord views no sin as better or worse than another, with the lone exception of the blaspheme of His unknowable name (cf. Matthew 12.31-32). After all, the astute readers of the Holy Scriptures ought to recall the presentation of the Lord before Moses at the burning bush.

"'Moses said to God, ‘When I come to the Israelites and say to them,

"'The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me,

"'What is His name?, what shall I say to them?’ And God said

"'to Moses, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’”

(Exodus 3.13-14a).

Now, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’ is Hebrew for ‘I Am Who I Am,’ a clever and accurate way to simultaneously provide Moses with an apt answer to his inquiry and to show who the Lord is by descriptions. Whenever a person blasphemes the Lord, He is essentially denying both His access to the person’s heart (not denying His existence in the while) and His sovereignty over everything in existence. Against that idea do I choose to identify with Joshua, who once said, “‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’” (Joshua 6.24).


Although I have expounded on the possibility of blaspheming the unknowable name of the Lord as the lone unforgivable transgression one can commit, a renowned theologian once wrote that the greatest of sins is pride (C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’). When one steps back and examines the plausibility of pride truly being the most significant sin, the idea is not insane. After all, it is written that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16.18). However, the Holy Scriptures point to blasphemy as being the unforgivable sin. As Christ once said,

"'Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men,

"'and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes

"'against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to

"'eternal condemnation’”

(Mark 3.28-29).

But that renowned writer Lewis is correct, for it could be argued that blasphemy comes about due to an asinine measurement of pride within a given person. Such a person, bounded by pride due to choosing to view personal accomplishments from a rather ungodly and sinister angle, is so committed to the wiles of that crazed agent of Satan, that is haughtiness, that he is even willing to rebuke the name of the Lord out of a sickening likening towards himself. I, this meek servant of the Lord, zealously pray for such people, that they may find the great Saviour, the Lord Christ Jesus, before they drive themselves to such rash and foolish acts as blaspheming the name of the Lord (whether blasphemy or pride is the greatest of sins).

Regarding the immediate future with my band of spiritual brothers, Bréanninn confidently anticipates more time in the ocean, amidst the icy, but still challenging, waves. The clouds shall grow darker still, he envisions, as I had previously conjectured. With the increase of the smoky clouds shall likely come thick, nautical fog. The dark mist shall tempt us to abandon our mission, to subsequently turn our wretched and shamed faces from the incomprehensibly wondrous face of our Lord, who sent His Son to atone for our iniquities and evils. Since He understands our plight, particularly through the petty temptation episode with Satan himself, we are assured that He shall not forsake us (cf. Psalms 37.28). No matter how ruthlessly we are tempted, and no matter how many times we succumb and comply to the wiles of the enemy, we have the knowledge that He shall not forget about us. Through love, through His Son and His Holy Spirit, He encourages us to not forget about Him, even if that means that He has to find an unthinkable avenue by which to break the pride from any one of us. Such a beautiful thought uplifts me even now, as the thick mist onsets, as the murky fog begins to envelop our ordained vessel....

A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

- John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Snowbound’ 11-18.*



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ar an drear seoltóireachta dorcha Aigéan (On the dark Ocean sailing drear)

On the subject of the incomprehensibly great act of creation that our Lord so undertook many millennia ago, I do have at least one inquiry to make that has likely rested on the hearts of many other curious souls. Did the Lord God have a specific purpose in mind by primarily colouring a given vast ocean-scape with various shades of blue? Forgive the brashness of the pen of this poor, wretched, and undeserving servant of the Lord. However, the Lord did lovingly create this world not only to be well-populated by that race which initially encompassed both His image and likeness but also to serve as an avenue by which that intelligent race may offer Him well-deserved psalms, hymns, and odes. Besides, it is written that Christ said to “ask, and it will be given to [one]; seek, and [one] will find; knock, and it will be given to [one]” (Matthew 7.7). In this case, I ask about the similarity in hue between the open ocean and the clear sky. Given my situation, that is being in the ocean for about a week (since the brothers and I left that blessed isle), it is not surprising that I ponder such things. No matter what His answer to my inquiry is, I can certainly praise Him for crafting such a beautiful world, pertinently the ocean-scapes that cover a majority of it.

[Source: Darcy Ireland]

As I previously indicated, Bréanninn, the other brothers, and I left that blessed and green isle approximately a week ago. The abbot of the monastic community there oversaw a humble, yet tasteful meal, which his brothers helped prepare. After the blessed occasion, the brothers saw us off with provisions, including fresh water, loaves of brown soda bread, and several varieties of fruit, and a prayer of prosperity. Relating the author’s own life, my family and I had a blessed and wonderful time together. I am thankful for what provisions they gave me, including furnishings for my frugal and lightly furnished dwelling-place. Although I shall see them at the end of the semester, I am grateful still for the ten days’ time we spent in one another’s company.


An increasing number of maelstroms have plagued our wee leather vessel these past few days, which surprises neither Bréanninn nor myself. Being Christians, we know what great lengths we must go through to “be perfect” as our Lord is (cf. Matthew 5.48). Given the unfathomable sacrifice Christ made to atone for the sins of mankind, I would argue that making temporal sacrifices of my own ought not to be seen as terrible. After all, the choice to carry one’s own cross for the sake of honouring our Lord is just that; one chooses to follow Him (cf. Luke 14.27). However, Scripture does provide the unfortunate, yet just, consequences to one who “‘...does not bear his cross and come after [Him]...’” that he “‘...cannot be [His] disciple’” (Luke 14.27). Christ charges all to follow Him through all maelstroms, that is through all trials, and be faithful until the end. Really, He does not ask much, for the average life span of a man is insignificantly small in the eyes of the Lord After all, to God, “...a thousand years in [His] sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night” (Psalms 90.4). Before one even considers doubting the awesome power of the Lord, was it not He who honoured the covenantal promise of Abraham by delivering his descendants from the oppressive grip of the Egyptians through marvels and wonders? Also, was it not Christ who fulfilled a multitude of prophesies by being a man and performing spectacular feats before all? I believe that He was, is, and always shall be omnipresent and omnipotent. With that stated, I trust that He shall grant us the necessary gifts to persevere through these physical and spiritual maelstroms.

This day, the one during which I am writing this entry, the water is surprisingly calm. Given the maelstroms that have attempted to wash me and my company out, that the ocean is calm seems eerily sublime. However, for such a temporary peace, I thank our Lord. After all, offering such thanksgiving, complimented with many odes and psalms, are what I, a petty and unworthy servant of the Lord, can give to He who “fearfully and wonderfully made” me (Psalms 139.14). Through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, I have the strength and confidence to face the waves, along with Bréanninn and my other brothers. The words of Joshua are on my heart and on my lips: “‘But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’” (Joshua 24.15b). As for me, I can do nothing but refocus my attention on the Lord and the ensuing maelstroms that visibly loom on the horizon of this beautiful ocean-scape.

"I die but when the grave shall press
"The heart so long endeared to thee
"When earthly cares no more distress
"And earthly joys are nought to me

"Weep not, but think that I have past
"Before thee o'er a sea of gloom
"Have anchored safe and rest at last
"Where tears and mourning cannot come

"'Tis I should weep to leave thee here
"On the dark Ocean sailing drear
"With storms around and fears before
"And no kind light to point the shore

"But long or short though life may be
"'Tis nothing to eternity
"We part below to meet on high
"Where blissful ages never die

"For life is but a passing breeze
"Nothing that we gain can we enjoy
"Nor can we delight in its devulgant pleasures
"Above waiteth thy bliss of glory

"Above waiteth thy noble hearts peace
"Thy victory in the grave shall be proclaimed
"For thou art converted in splendour."

- Emily Brontë, 'Lines' (Dec. 1837).


Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Oileán na Sléibhte Glas (The Isle of the Green Mountains)

Those people among my audience who are familiar with my musings, writings, and patterns have rightfully expected my latest - and my most wretched - timed entry to have been completed this past Lord’s Day, that is Sunday. An apology is in order for those people who would benefit from it, for I have neglected my self-imposed obligation to write an entry for this past Sunday. This green island, and the adventures which have occupied virtually all my free time, has distracted me from my writing. However, I have been working on this hypothetical entry for the past handful of days now. My recent distractions have deterred me from successfully completing my latest entry at the target date. Yet, I did indicate when I began my writings on my voyage with my brothers that certain scenarios would occur which would quite likely prevent me from completing a given target entry. Apparently, this visit to this island is one of those times. Please forgive this tired and wretched servant of the Lord for his failure to complete an expected entry for this past Lord’s Day. It is my hope that this latest timed entry would be an acceptable token not only of my undeterred love for my audience but also of my undying care for the continuation of this series of, well, nautical writings.


Regarding my most recent escapades, I must say that I have never before seen such luscious green landscapes as those that cover this island. Slightly amusing, that admission is for me to utter. This island seemed familiar to me from afar. Having spent a week’s time scouting this beautiful island with Bréanninn and the brothers, I can conclude that that plausibility is simultaneously a reality and a fantasy. Perhaps the time I have spent both in allowing myself to be further immersed in the presence of the Lord Christ Jesus and in being encompassed by the physical beauty of the island has tempted me to lose myself completely. Bah, but a mere monk - a humble servant of the Lord - ought not to think as such. After all, the vows I am bound by perpetually remind myself of what unnecessary, yet admirable, lengths I have chosen to undertake to serve He who lovingly created me.

[Windsor, VT. Credit: Darcy Ireland.]

As I have indicated, our divinely-orchestrated visit to this island has satisfied my heart and soul. Exploring this lively island has enchanted my spirit. Through enjoying the natural beauty that encompasses this island, the Lord has found an avenue by which to minister to me. Over the past handful of days, the brothers and I have seen such sights as maple trees, jays, and nestled barns. The serenity and warmth the island has provided to us certainly has edified my soul, if not any one of the other brothers. More realistically, my earthly family has spent the past week visiting my sorry self, this petty author. We have been been sightseeing on a vacation. Sights such as Colby College (Waterville, ME), Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), and Cape Cod (MA) have caught a majority of my total attention this past week. It has been a delight not only to enjoy the company that is my family, but also to use the gift of astute navigation the Lord granted me to show them about my favourite region of the United States of America that is New England. Playing tour guide and traveling about the great region with my family was a great chance for my pious Irish persona to see how much the Lord loves an earthly family he has created. But my character, through his still brief voyage with Bréanninn and the brothers, is beginning to realize for himself, with the Lord’s aid and strength, what true love is. After all, the Holy Scriptures has this to say regarding His love: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4.8). Also, is the Christian not to “Honor [his] father and [his] mother, that [his] days may be long upon the land which the LORD [his] God...” grants to him? (Exodus 20.12). Finally, it is written that a Christian loves “because He first loved us” (I John 4.19). As surely as I was reminded of the great spiritual warmth the Holy Spirit provided to me and continued to kindle due to the chaste love I expressed (and still do) to my family, my Irish monastic archetype is truly beginning to thrive in a spiritual love of his own for his fellow Christian brothers.

[Hanover, NH. Credit: Darcy Ireland.]

Although the sights of the green island have been nostalgically wonderful to me, one particular feature raises special attention in my mind. Coláiste Dartmouth, that is Dartmouth College, is a place I had once previously longed to visit, if not attend for a duration of time with the purpose of earning a certain degree of higher learning, such as a doctoral degree. Well, certain circumstances have played out in my life that have prevented me from fulfilling that bid (I refer not to earning such an advanced degree, but to attending Coláiste Dartmouth particularly). Perhaps the Lord means to tell me that the possibility of my attending that certain prestigious institution is not part of His will for my life. If so, then I choose to be content with my having seen the place with my own eyes and nothing more. It seems that it is not meant to be, that is my enrolling as a postgraduate student at this school. To me, Coláiste Dartmouth represents an unattainable fantasy that will likely not be realized and is likely not of the Lord’s Will, as I have already indicated and supposed. Still, to have the chance to be familiar with such a sight as Dartmouth leaves the author content.

Of all the islands the brothers and I could possibly have landed upon, I am particularly thankful that we are here, on An Oileán na Sléibhte Glas. The Lord certainly willed us to be here, that we may be a spiritually-edifying type of blessing to the monastic community here, and vice versa. The abbot of the community has been quite hospitable and caring to me and my merry band of soldiers (as Bréanninn likes to refer to the lot). Our brother Bréanninn did convince us to believe that this nautical voyage is ordained by the Lord as one that is righteous and good. This week has been beneficial not only for me but also for Bréanninn. This visit has been a great opportunity to live out the word of the Lord through the apostle Paul: “[Pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6.18).

[Wellfleet, MA. Credit: Darcy Ireland.]

Bréanninn and the abbot both seem to agree that the Lord would desire to see the former, the brothers and myself set sail for whatever he may have for us on the seas by the end of the day that is third from today. From what Bréanninn has told me, the Lord foreknows the outcomes of many more maelstroms and waves of trials the brothers and I have yet to encounter. Already from this time on this lush, prosperous island, I have envisioned and asked the Lord about the upcoming tribulations I must face. I am not afraid to face such trials, for I know that the Lord was, is, and always shall be with me. He cares for nothing less than the best for me. After all, it is written that as a Christian, I must “[cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for [me]” (I Peter 5.7). Additionally, I need to “trust in the LORD with all [my] heart, and lean not on [my] own understanding” (Proverbs 3.5). He and I both know that by honestly confiding in Him, I shall not falter, but will spiritually thrive. My prayer is that the song that would fall from the lips of everyone is that which I hope to sing even should I fail in my bid to make it through all these maelstroms fully intact (cf. I Chronicles 29.11):

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
“The power and the glory,
“The victory and the majesty;
“For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
“Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
“And You are exalted as head over all.”

For now, I must rest. The maelstroms, those trials that flow and ebb in waves, loom ahead.....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Maelstroms trialacha (Maelstroms of trials)

It has been a week’s time since we cast off from the beloved shores of County Galway, from our home. Even so, I am tempted to think that it has been a year’s time, if not that of a fortnight and a half. Such realistic entertainment of a false truth is one example of what damage a nautical voyage can induce to one’s spirit, provided one allow such erosion. In all fairness, these bland thoughts are in mere infancy. After all, the sheer excitement of sailing the open ocean had enchanted me this past week. As I noted to my Christian brother Bréanninn a few days after we had cast off from our native Eire, I am grateful and thankful before our Lord to be a part of such a voyage. To that, Bréanninn concurred, but with a word of caution. This voyage will try your soul, he warned. It is like life: As a wave is a potential hindrance to the progress of a ship, so a given trial in life is a plausible stoppage to one’s advancement towards entrance into the eternal paradise that is heaven. In my prayer to the Lord, I pondered these words of caution. Indeed, I heed my brother Bréanninn’s words like as if they were from the Lord Himself. As I’m sure Bréanninn would have told me had he spoken further, it is with the Lord’s help that any wave can be overcome. After all, Christ once said, “‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you’” (Luke 17.6). Through the Scriptures, I also understand the consequences that would ensue should I ask for the Lord’s help without faith: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1.6). It is all too fitting that the very waves that this leather boat has been cutting through this past week have failed to stop our holy voyage. They are aimlessly tossed about by the wind. Without my faith in the Lord, I would be as one of those waves.


One sea wave differs from another in size and intensity. Similarly, one tribulation differs from another one. Although all trials require the Lord’s aid, some waves, or tests, can be lightly tackled and overcome. Recently, I was tasked to write my first critical essay as a postgraduate theology student. Initially, handling this assignment didn’t seem easy, for a number of months had passed since I had completed my last academic essay. Complimenting this excuse was a shred of anxiety at the knowledge that this essay would be my first as a postgraduate student. Excitement and nervousness attempted to cloud my thoughts. That the construction of an academic essay is like riding a bicycle would be a fair simile to use to describe the outcome of this situation. Once I sat down to begin the necessary research to structure and write this paper, the anxiety departed from my being (with His aid). The result - a seven-page analysis on Genesis 18-19 - put to rest any doubts that clouded my thoughts. To me, the process of writing such an essay is like an ‘easy’ wave, or a light trial, that must be overcome. Compared to other tests, this one proved not to be as heavily taxing on my soul as I had initially surmised. Despite that conclusion, the trial still required me to trust in the Lord. As the apostle Paul once wrote, “‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’” (Philippians 4.13).

In contrast to the light 'wave' of writing an essay, the Lord also expects me to overcome more significant ones. The larger waves are typically found during thunderstorms or hurricanes in the open ocean. It is how one approaches these sort of waves that one experiences the greatest spiritual growth - or decrease. The Lord particularly enjoys helping one through the more powerful waves, for His desire is to see all men love Him dearly. Even though He realizes that a man cannot undeniably be “‘perfect, just as [He who] in heaven is perfect’” (Matthew 5.48), He also knows that a believer ought not to err simply because the state of perfection by a carnal man (sans Christ Jesus) is impossible to attain. After all, Christ Jesus did utter this: ‘“If [one] loves Me, keep My commandments’” (John 14.15). These commandments are rooted in true love: “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it” (II John 1.6). The test of overcoming my diagnosis of autism with the Lord’s help is arguably the greatest wave I have had to pass through. The Lord has taught me that not even the most gifted medical doctors, whose profession and experience gives them license to prognosticate the outcomes of patients, can correctly forecast the ‘logical’ effect of a given medical cause. One such doctor, who was employed by the medical center of a prominent university, predicted that I would be so mentally low-functioning that I would likely be confined to a sort of resting-home for the rest of my life based on that medical diagnosis. Instead of being angry at that doctor, I choose to forgive him for incorrectly forecasting my fate. He is only a man; I let the lady Fortune place me as she wills, for she is limited by the mighty hand of the Lord. From such a bleak prediction, here I stand. I am not entirely sure whether this particularly rough wave was just that or if it was really a series of several rough waves that became due to a maelstrom. My uncertainty notwithstanding, I still need the Lord to help me, “That the genuineness of [my] faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1.7).

My friends, there is at least one more aspect to this metaphorical interpretation of my walk with the Lord that is crucial. The waves of the unpredictable ocean of life are chaotic, with no apparent pattern, as perceived by man. Now, a set of tools is available to combat any given intensity of wave, or of trial, no matter the positioning of one’s ship in the waters. To add to the metaphor, a navigator’s reliance on the alignment of the stars in the sky, and trust in that alignment, is a Christian’s reliance on the Lord in the spiritual realm, and trusting His existence. As a navigator must look to both the positioning of the stars and to his maps, so a Christian must look to both the Lord and to the Scriptures. Although the Lord Christ once said, “‘ not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on’” (Luke 12.22b), it is also wise to do what one must do in a given day to be as prepared for whatever the Lord has for the next day as one can possibly be. With these notes, one of the Lord shall be ready to allow Him to be the “...shield and the One in whom [one may] take refuge” (Psalms 144.2) against whatever waves one may have to subdue. In the end, the Lord blesses those who tackle a given wave in His name with the assurance of the maps, or Scriptures, and the affirmation of the positioning of the stars, or His eternal presence.

The Lord initially created man to lovingly worship Him. With that in mind, He understands that even though the world has fallen into the clutches of corruption and iniquity, the occasional event that somewhat mirrors heavenly paradise can be known by man. Knowing that the Lord created man to be happy, He allows such occasional times, so long as they are in line with His master plan. One could compare these moments in life to calm stretches of seawater. Such a type of time is one in which “...the wind [drops] and the sea [coagulates], as it were - it [is] so smooth” (Anon., Voyage xiv.). Without a wave to be seen for many knots ahead, one savours such a time that evokes feelings of serenity and security. As for me, I celebrate such times by doing as I ought: To lift up words of thanksgiving to the Lord God, who knows the afflictions of all mankind and honours those who long after His own righteous heart. It was in a similar calm that the patriarch Noah sent from his ark the dove that would find the “freshly plucked olive leaf” by which Noah “knew that the waters had receded from the earth” (Genesis 8.10-11). By that olive branch, Noah knew that the Lord was confirming to him that his faith in Him through the myriad of waves - physical and spiritual ones - had its reward, that is life...

[Credit: Darcy Ireland]

Ah, my friends! Although I would like to expand on this subject, I need to cease. My brother St. Bréanainn calls for my attention now. I thought I heard him thank the Lord for something a mere few seconds ago. Oh, he has spotted a shoreline! It’s still several knots afar - it may take a couple days to reach - but provided it be the Lord’s will, this leather boat shall soon strike land. It is strange, though. This particular shoreline reminds me of a pleasant time in my past....