Please give us a sign
From his vantage point on deck, Rodrigo can see the outlines of the city, like a mirage in the distance. The lines of the buildings are etched on the horizon. As the days drag by, you wonder if your mind is playing games with you. Perhaps the city is in your imagination. How can it be? The magical city, the solid ground is just there on the horizon, but horribly out of reach.
Rodrigo is held captive between the iron walls of the ship. He is desperate for contact. He romanticises about the conversations that he will have with people as he explores the city. He idealises the people that get on with their normal daily tasks on solid ground. The ship turns into a jail and as the dead iron walls close in, it feels sinister and claustrophobic, perhaps closing in to pulverise you. It turns your heart and mind into personal captivity too. The city has been hovering there for two weeks now. It has been two months since the visit to the last harbour, but nine months without solid ground under his feet
Then, in a second, everything becomes too much. There on deck, he feels only the hopelessness of this life. It attacks Rodrigo like a thief in the night. In that moment, stripped from everything, the last straw is a whispered plea, a hardly spoken prayer … ‘God, please give a sign, just a sign… A seagull lands with pomp and precision on deck, just next to him, despite a very strong wind that threatens the Bay. From nowhere the gull looks him in the eyes. This is his sign, his answer. Almost instantaneously he hears the crackles on the radio. An excited voice announces with gusto, ‘Anchors up!' At last they have clearance to enter the harbour.
This is Rodrigo's story that he tells Danie at the dining table. The ship is docked and Danie's visit is another sign. Danie had been sent. He is the answer to a prayer and a plea.
They have a pastoral conversation. It is what Rodrigo needs more than anything. Danie's visit reaches an emotional, tired and overloaded Rodrigo, offering him a moment's rest. Their being together is like an oasis where you can rest after a long journey. It is also a place to prepare for what is to come. In being together, laughing out loud, crying together and sharing a prayer, Rodrigo finds what he needs most.
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