Black ore falls spectacularly into the dark depths of the ship. The wide open trap of the ship hungrily slurps up the tonnes and tonnes manganese. Hour upon hour, load upon load, the hunger is stilled gradually. The bow of the ship lies low in the water. Eventually the hunger is stilled and the heavy trap closes with deep groans and moans. It protects the load from water and light. The load is sealed and locked for the trip to China.
For those on board it is not much different. The metal walls limit them too. They lock them in like hostages. When your cabin door closes, it becomes a jail. Once the ship finds its way on the mighty oceans, cut off from all at home, each of those on board is captured between iron and ocean.
During this chaotic time, it is much worse for the men. In the harbour the quay is only twelve metres away, but it is twelve metres too far. All over the world these hostages drift from harbour to harbour. They may not get off the ship in any harbour. There are no flights to take them to their loved ones. It is chaos. The chaos is very angry…
Now, more than ever before, they must hear the message of the Jesus again and again.
Be still and know, I am the Lord.
Be still and know, I Am.
Be still and know.
This is why we at the CSO continue to serve them in new ways. Technology helps to get on board, perhaps not in person, but in being. We can continue to share these words in new ways to encourage the men.
Perhaps, when all is over and we are freed from our own lockdowns, we will remember that the lives of the people at sea are like this all the time – limited, locked in.
Then, perhaps, we could think of them with more empathy and care, to remain part of a service that reminds these men that work at sea of one constant in life – I am.