13 June 2014

Five Minute Friday ~ Messenger

I've mentioned before that my father-in-law loves sailing.

The man built, over the course of a couple of decades, his own wooden sailboat. Quite the accomplishment!  (And if, after I finish writing this post, I can find a few pics of my hubby and kids sailing on that boat with their grandfather, I'm gonna scan and add them here.)

When I married into this family, I knew nothing about sailing... had no desire to try sailing... was only vaguely clued in to the fact that people still actually sailed using sails instead of engines and motors and automatic stuff.

Since then, I've learned a few bits and pieces... and have definitely paid more attention when I've stumbled across nautical terms... because of this.

One interesting piece was that "messenger" is also a nautical term. 

If you'd asked a sailor back in the early 1800's, "What is a messenger," he would have said something like: "a small kind of cable, which being brought to the capstain and the cable by which the ship rides made fast to it, it purchases the anchor." That's the old-fashioned way of saying that a messenger is actually a small line that is used to help pull up a heavier line or cable, like the thick, weighty metal cord typically used to hold an anchor. The messenger line tends to be easier to throw, more readily threaded through holes... in general, this line is more conveniently and efficiently manipulated to accomplish tasks necessary for securing, releasing and otherwise controlling the boat.

I guess you could think of the messenger as a potentially delicate (but not less important) connection between the captain and the anchor... that thing that holds fast, keeping the boat from drifting away or maintaining stability when the winds and waves batter it.

A contemporary of Robert Lewis Stevenson (I actually read somewhere that Stevenson modeled his character of Long John Silver on this man), William Henley wrote a famous poem - I'm sure that even if you don't recognize the entire poem, you'll recall having heard someone, somewhere, quote the last few lines. In some senses, they are the epitome of the American dream and spirit: 

Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
    I am the captain of my soul.***

Those are words that sound so courageous, bold, inspiring... but yet without a messenger line anchoring the captain in his boat to a secure anchor, he really is at the mercy of whatever may come... wherever the tides pull, however the winds buffet... pointless and without consistent direction.

And that thought has me thinking today about what serves as my messenger line in life, safely leashing me to God Almighty... His Word, my church (and pastor), my husband, my children, good friends... come to mind immediately.

How about you? What tethers you, today, to the Lord?

photo credit: Franck Vervial via photopin cc

Linking up with Lisa-Jo for another Five Minute Friday... and this one was fun to write. Loved having a "different" sort of word for today's writing prompt!
{*** indicates where I was when my five minutes had expired. :-) I kept on going!}


  1. Fascinating! I love your take on the prompt today.

  2. Very interesting! I am clueless on the "messenger" prompt.. no idea what to write! Lol

    1. yeah... it was a bit of a different one. glad i remembered this little piece of trivia i'd stored away somewhere. :-)

  3. Richelle,
    Thanks for teaching me something new :) Very impressive also about your FIL building his own boat...blessings :) The Holy Spirit holds me...and reminds me of what is true :)

    1. i think it is always fun to learn - especially something totally new!


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