Strange Mercy

"... and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Location: Mid-Atlantic Sprawl, United States

I'm a former idealist turned 'defensive pessimist' who has concluded, after living on two coasts, two continents, and an island, that most of us spend our lives as prey, economically and psychologically. Awareness is the key to understanding this; but once we understand it, we may transcend it, choosing, when we can, to be neither prey nor predator.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Those In Peril On The Sea: Ike and the Antalina

From the Houston Chronicle:

September 13, 2008

Wayward freighter makes it through storm OK

The adrift freighter Antalina, which had to weather Hurricane Ike offshore after the Coast Guard was unable to rescue the 22 crewmembers aboard, made it through the storm in good shape, the Coast Guard said.

The 584--foot bulk freighter will be towed back to port.
From the Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard confirmed at approximately 8:00 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, that the heaviest winds of Hurricane Ike had passed the vessel and all 22 crewmembers onboard were reported to be in good health. The vessel had drifted to a point approximately 170 miles southeast of Galveston.

The Rotterdam, a nearly 250-foot tug is reported to be enroute to the Antalina and is expected to rendevous with the Antalina at approximately 12:00 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, and begin towing the vessel back to port. A specific port of entry has not been determined at this time


"We're very pleased that the crew of the Antalina was able to ride out Hurricane Ike without injury," said Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry, assistant public affairs officer for the Eighth Coast Guard District. "The rescue of these 22 crewmembers was one of our highest priorities, but now that we know they are safe, we can dedicate all our aircraft and resources to people along the Texas coast who may need rescuing after Ike passes."
Bargaining with God is unsophisticated. It is unquestionably a primitive impulse. But it comes readily to mind when everything else around you is just as primitive.

Perhaps the word should be primal. Adrift at sea, tossed and shaken by hurricane force winds and waves, the crew of the Antalina were in the most primal peril, powerless, utterly at the mercy of the elements and their Maker.

God alone knows - and He does, indeed, know - how many prayers were raised, by how many people, for the Antalina and her crew. He definitely knows that among those prayers, possibly hundreds of thousands in number, one tiny petition included a specific vow. One small, insignificant, primitive soul pleaded a bargain for the lives of strangers, and promised to keep a modified fast, one day for each crew member, plus one for the ship's cat [or dog] if they and their ship were spared.

Tiny as that prayer was, lost as it must have been in the billows and surges of desperate faith and love poured out by others, it was a true vow. Not an attempt to control the omnipotent, not an attempt to persuade the omniscient. But an offering, freely made. This in exchange for that, please God, if this is at all, in any way, acceptable in exchange, along with all the other petitions and promises that have also been offered, of which You alone know.

A bargain, however tiny its source, however slight its impact, must be honored. I now have a small debt to pay. I am looking forward to it.

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who biddest the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy Word,
Who walkèd on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease,
And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our family shield in danger’s hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect us wheresoe'er we go;
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.
Amen, amen, and yet again, amen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are a true saint. I dearly wish from the bottom of my heart that more christians were willing to give from the heart in order to see others saved.

Some might say you have the gift of intercession. I personally am sick of categorising acts of love and faith so that other christians can ignore what has happened. 'Oh, she was an intercessor, I couldn't do that becuase my gift is helps' or some such.

I know this sounds cynical, but I am tired to my bones of plastic christianity.

I know you didn't write this in order to get praise, but it is nice for somebody to know when our prayers have been answered.

I needed to read this today, thankyou for your inspiration.

October 5, 2008 at 2:36 AM  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Thanks Meg, but I'm nothing of the kind. If I were a true saint, I would have been able to resist the impulse to share about this.

It would have stayed between myself and God.

Many many people prayed for this ship and its crew. My voice was one among tens of thousands. A literal drop in the ocean.

But I wonder, sometimes: if all people of faith could unite in selfless prayer for the good of humankind, without rancor or dissension, what miracles would arise, all over the face of this Earth?

October 11, 2008 at 5:01 PM  

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