With Apologies to Norman Maclean, Richard Friedenberg & Robert Redford...
Each of us here today will, at one time of our lives, look upon a loved one who is in need, and ask the same question,
We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?
It is true: we can seldom help those closest to us.
Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted.
And, so it is these we live with and should know who elude us.
But we can still love them. We can love completely, without complete understanding.
Long ago, rain fell on mud and became rock. Half a billion years ago.
But even before that, beneath the rocks, are the Words of God.
To Him, all good things, wind on the water, and sailing as well as salvation, come by Grace.
And grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.
Now, nearly all those I loved and did not understand in my youth are dead. …. But I still reach out to them.
Of course, now I'm too old to be much of a sailor and now I never sail the big waters alone, because some friends think I shouldn't.
But when I am alone in the half light of the channel, all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories.
And the sounds of the big Pacific surf and a four-count rhythm and a hope that a steady 15-knot breeze will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one.
And water runs through it.
The oceans were delivered by the world's great floods and run over the rocks from the basement of time.
On some of the rocks are timeless rain drops;
under the rocks are The Words...
and some of the words are Theirs.
I am haunted by water.
I never saw them again. The sea took some, the steamers took others, the graveyards of the earth will account for the rest. Singleton has no doubt taken with him the long record of his faithful work into the peaceful depths of an hospitable sea. And Donkin, who never did a decent day's work in his life, no doubt earns his living by discoursing with filthy eloquence upon the right of labour to live. So be it! Let the earth and the sea each have its own.
A gone shipmate, like any other man, is gone for ever; and I never met one of them again. But at times the spring-flood of memory sets with force up the dark River of the Nine Bends. Then on the waters of the forlorn stream drifts a ship--a shadowy ship manned by a crew of Shades. They pass and make a sign, in a shadowy hail. Haven't we, together and upon the immortal sea, wrung out a meaning from our sinful lives? Good-bye, brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas of a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale.