Chaplain’s Corner

Mariner’s Passage - The purpose of this column is to share my reflections on the life of we mariners and the Creator of the seas.  We mariners have the opportunity to experience the Almighty up close and personal in ways no otherís can.

By George Shannon
Bolger, Microtrawler & Teal builder.



Certainly nothing can compare with what happened on September 11th in the history of this country, at least not on our soil. Many of us have seen these things on other soil and still deal with it every day. Many hoped that the children of this country would not have to live day to day in fear as do most children of the world. This was supposed to be that place on earth where we thought our beliefs, system of government and economic structure would shield us from this kind of blood being spilled so close to home. How are we to live from now on? What do we do different than September 10th and before? We live in a high alert status, strike out in as many places in the world as we can find those responsible or evenly closely associated with those folks, we can stock up emergency supplies and hunker down, stay good and angry so as not to feel pain, drink and medicate ourselves into oblivion, deny and ignore the reality and allow a few personality splits to cover us for awhile, throw blame in every direction possible and a good few hundred ways more. Maybe itís all of those or at least some anyway, we all have the choice to make.

I recently started wearing hearing aids and am amazed at the sound of crinkling paper or the dogs toe nails on the wood floor, or being able to hear whispers across the room and not having to ask folks to repeat so many things they say to me. I have been given a gift of hearing again and with it have come new appreciations, a better sense of actually being in a conversation without stress, and a greater sense of well-being. As the events of September 11th unfolded, I went through shock, disbelief, anger, depression, severe fits of crying and wailing at the pain and suffering I had seen all too much before. Where was there a gift to me or anyone in all of this? Not once though did I ask God ďwhyĒ does this keep happening in this world of ours and why didnít He stop it all? I know that we all have free wills and we saw that free exercise clearly enough and I still believe that in Godís providence that He probably stopped a dozen other terrorist actions from happening and we just wonít find that out until we meet Him face to face. And why He chooses this way or that, who lives and who dies, well He is God and I donít claim to understand all that. I know I had terrible guilt for coming back alive from a place where so many died. I may not like it or understand it, but I believe there are things we just donít get the answer to in this life.

Even though I served in the military, I have never been patriotic because I saw an emptiness and phoniness in it all because of the obvious weaknesses in our leaders and people in general. But as I joined in the pain of what I saw happening daily for the past several weeks, I realized I needed to go put up a flag. Not to be patriotic or to make my patriotic neighbors feel good, but because I realized that my sin was no less than the terrorists and that of every person in this country and the world. I got down from my moral high ground and was having to eat of the same terrible food as all the rest of the world eats everyday. As strange as it sounds, there was a freedom for me personally even though the pain continues. And I do have a new awareness of being a citizen of the world and the way most others live. So if you see the flag waving from my boat or in my yard, it only means I am a full citizen of this entire world who just happens to live in America and be glad of it. 

I began to ask God how He saw all this and through reading of Scripture and prayer, discussions with others, I find that again nothing is new in the world, just closer to home now and probably will be forever. So now, how am I to live my life? Can there be a part of me that even these events cannot get to? Can I remain fully human with all the emotional reactions necessary to a whole healthy person, and still have a fortress where no man or circumstance can shake? Well, the answer for me is absolutely yes. My faith and assurance of Godís love isnít up for grabs because of what happens around me or to me and there has been a little of that too. So, if I had a word of encouragement for anyone who is struggling for a place to land in all this mess, give the God who created us all a chance to show you another side of this picture, that only He can give.


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