I’ve gone mad, completely insane. What am I doing?
Harold paced the dock in the fog. Nervous, he fiddled with his pocket watch. Every time he opened it he saw his sweet Maria’s photograph tucked in the lid.
How long has it been, dear Maria? Harold sobbed, too long and not long enough.
The turmoil and grief battered his soul like a ship tossed about in a storm. Harold snapped the lid shut. You’ve got time to back out. Yes, back out now.
A quick look over his shoulder and he knew ‘back out now’ was not an option.
“Reverend Harold Price, I presume? My name is Captain John Waverly.”
Harold took the brawny, calloused hand and gave it a firm handshake, belying his confidence, “at your service, Captain.”
My hand is sweaty. Why is he looking at me like that? Does he think I’m afraid? Harold tried not to panic. I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid. God is not the author of fear. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.*
“I hear you’re in need of a new start in life.” Captain rested his hand on Harold’s shoulder, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Harold cleared his throat, “thank you, sir.”
“Will you preach in California?” Waverly cocked his head as he considered the new widower.
Harold fidgeted, “I can’t stay here, too many memories. We’ll see what happens.”
Captain Waverly nodded. “Let’s get your trunk aboard and get you settled, but let me put your mind at ease. Since the gold rush started, I have successfully sailed around Cape Horn more than any other New England Captain.”
“That’s good to know.”
“I’m also the only Captain that refuses to sail without a minister aboard. I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer.”
But of power, and of love, and of sound mind. Power…sound mind. Harold repeated these words over and over again as he followed the Captain to the ship. Sound mind? This is crazy.
“There she is,” Captain Waverly stretched his hand out towards the dark figure of a ship in the predawn fog, “three hundred tons of pure reliability. N’er a problem.”
Harold gulped. How does three hundred tons stay afloat?
“Reverend,” Captain stopped Harold, “we will be into rough waters soon. This next leg of the journey is crucial. ”
The hushed tones in which the Captain spoke alerted Harold’s senses. “I’ll tell Cook I am committed to a fast until we’re ‘round The Horn.”
Each day the changes in the temperatures and the intensity of the ships movements caused the passengers to become agitated. Fear hung in the air.
“Captain,” Harold shouted above the wind. “When will we ‘round The Horn?”
“Today’s the day, Reverend.” Captain lifted his eyes heavenward, “God willing, today’s the day.”
The ship pitched and Harold lurched into the Captain. “I’ll be in my cabin.”
Prostrate on the floor, Harold prayed with fervor as the ship reeled unpredictably. With his feet braced against the frame of his bed, he called out to God.
Outside, he could hear frantic shouts of the crew and the crash of waves. Just as the ship heaved forward, Harold rolled helplessly and landed with a painful thud against the wall. He tucked into a fetal position and wrapped his arms around his head. The storm’s ruthless force rocked the ship in every direction.
“This is too hard, God.” Harold cried out in his fear and inadequacy. “Life is unbearable without her.” He gave in to his grief and wept vehemently.
As the ship continued to pitch relentlessly, Harold rocked back and forth like a child. He clutched his pocket watch to his chest and could only pray three simple words. Peace, be still. Peace, be still.*
Then he heard the still small voice. Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?*
Harold repented of his fear and lack of faith. As the storm eased up, the weight of his grief lifted as well. He sat with his back braced against the wall and wiped his nose with his sleeve.
The sound of feet pounded the deck and shouts outside brought Harold to his senses. His door burst open and the cabin boy shouted, “We’re ‘round The Horn! Thank God Almighty. We’re ‘round The Horn.”
Harold opened his pocket watch, and gazed at his beloved wife. Yes, thank God Almighty. I’m ‘round the horn.
Cape Horn is located at the southern most tip of South America. In 1849, during the California Gold Rush, traveling by ship around Cape Horn became the most popular avenue of travel. Despite the great hazards involved, it was considered a safer alternative than crossing by land.
Scriptures are quoted from the King James Version
2 Timothy 1:7
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