I was thinking about the tall ships that sailed in honor of the country’s Bicentennial in 1976. I was thinking about that because one of my students is studying the Revolutionary War and the subsequent history. I as explaining to him the significance of knowing your history. I told him there are lessons for the heart in every subject. He finds history dry, and cannot for the life of him remember his facts well enough to do well on his tests. So next week we will begin anew, and I will show him how to learn history, make it come alive, and make it memorable.
I, of course, find much of history exciting, and can see parallels throughout history to tie it all together. This week, of course, we are talking a lot about history, as it was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech.
When we want to hold fast to important lessons, we tend to try to time travel, don’t we? Putting ourselves at a place and time, and re-experiencing it, drives home the lessons.
What does all of that have to do with sailing ships? Plenty. Those of us who emigrated to this country may have had ancestors who sailed here. When I want to feel at peace, I let my mind wander to the sea. I have only been on a sail boat once. But oh my, I take heart at the thought of sailing. I take heart at the thought of being near the sea.
That brings to mind the poem I love about the sea….
It grabs me right away. “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,”
I picture me running like a crazy nut, down the boardwalk, zooming down the beach to the shore, jumping on the boat, loosening the moorings, grabbing the ropes, turning the sails and zooming out to sea. Of course I do not actually know how to sail, but my family did boat when I was a kid. A little motorboat that we water skied behind.
So the release I feel when I am on the water is special. I hope you are feeling a lovely feeling today.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
So as the week draws to a close, and we head into Labor Day Weekend, I recall the signal that reminded me of summer’s end, when I was a child. School began the day after Labor Day then. My family and I would be on the Mississippi River, squeezing one last weekend in===filling our hearts and spirits with glorious joy and memories.
My students began school weeks ago. but a piece of my heart will journey to a special sandbar on the Mississippi river, just south of Hastings. My late father will be manning the boat, and starting the charcoals on the beach. The smell of bacon will invade my senses as i sleep in the tent. Yes, I will be there. I will be 10 years old, my parents and brothers young, and I will renew my spirit. But actually, with all of the travels of late, I am quite renewed already. My heart is full of new joys. I will be with my beloved husband and son. I will rejoice. The sea gulls are in my heart, I am in the desert. It s good. It is very, very good.
We can each come sail away, in our own ways. Whether our ships be tall or small, they will carry us. Head into the wind, watch the gulls; laugh and rejoice.