Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memory

I had never posted anything my father wrote until last year on Memorial Day. I suppose that is odd, considering that I inherited my love for writing from him. So, in honor of Memorial Day Weekend (and in loving memory of my dad), I offer you one of his pieces - again.

Scripture: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

I love ships. I don't get nearly enough exposure to them by living in landlocked Illinois. That's why I tour every historic ship in every port every chance I get. Last summer, I had my itinerary planned; I could hardly wait to step aboard. She was a thing of glory, had never known a losing conflict. But, after the War of 1812, outdated and outclassed, she was replaced by the new breed of steam-powered vessels. While the debate to scrap her heated up, Oliver Wendell Holmes asked the question, "Shall the harpies of the shore pluck the Eagle of the Sea?"

Old Ironsides.

Her name said it all. But, when I saw her, she certainly looked as though the harpies had been at her. All of her masts were gone, along with miles of rigging. The cannons which had studded her decks were no longer there. Her rudder lay on the edge of the pier like a large bronze whale, as if some denizen of the deep had tossed it ashore. All that remained was the hull, picked clean. She quietly rested now in dry-dock in the midst of refitting and refurbishing. It saddened me to look at her, the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Disappointed, I walked away.

Warships, war horses, or warriors all need a respite from the battles of life. As a matter of fact, that's why I happened to be in Boston. In a sense, I was in dry-dock. That realization hit me hard. Our ideal is to be at our fighting b est every second, never give up, burn out, or rust. Aren't we supposed to be like eagles, mounting up on our wings, never growing wear? But Isaiah tells us to "wait on the Lord." We don't always have to be strong. Sometimes we need to be stripped down to the water line of our soul and be renewed. That's true whether we are an "Eagle of the Sea" or an eagle just like me. Then, we can be made to soar again.
-Dennis Johnson

Artwork by Jennifer Bossert 

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