Departure

An excerpt from my next book. In draft:


At 12:30 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 1974 we departed. We said our goodbyes all day and the night before. Ted had organized a small farewell party for us at the yacht club. Everyone in our circle was there. Nigel was a no show. No matter. He was not the most affable of guys around here. No one liked him but it was his own fault. He was distant and unfriendly, having an arrogant superiority about him to most of the people that he came in contact with. Many of whom I became acquainted with. For no good reason. I do not understand why he acted in the way that he did.

Big ole Sven, our Swedish yacht buddy, drinking mate, and one of Nigel’s rare buds, came by to say so long and to let our lines go for us. It was a surreal feeling knowing that you will never see these guys, and gals ever again. And I haven’t.

There occurred one incident before we left that had a profound effect on me. It happened just before New Years – that week between the holidays – when nothing of importance is really going on. Akaru-Hime was berthed on the breakwater, bow in and facing the shore, the stern secured to some hard point on the stone breakwater. On one side of me was Skip. On the other was some dude named Peter who I barely knew. He seemed to be out of his depth, nerdy looking, about thirty I would expect. We never really hit it off as friends or neighbours. He kept to himself most of the time other than the odd hello, good morning and small chit chat like that. But one evening he asked if I would accompany him to a meeting in Waikiki. This I did.

He took me down to a small building located on a short side street that bore north off of Kalakaua Avenue down in the Waikiki district of Oahu. There in an upstairs room we met up with about twelve people all of whom appeared to be close associates of Peter. It turned out that Peter was a born again Christian and part of the Jesus movement here in the Hawaiian Islands. This was not surprising to me as the Jesus movement was huge in the early 1970s. I witnessed it first hand in my home town of Toronto where many of the young people I knew, many of whom were juvenile gangsters, petty criminals, drug dealers and users, converted to the movement and became fanatical in their beliefs and their personal conversions. They wanted to share their enlightenment with a non suspecting public with their own personal road to Damascus.  There were many a Saturday night in the parking lot of the local pool hall where I was caught up in their rhetoric and preaching with no escape route in sight. That is not to say I was not a Christian or a believer. No, I was just more subtle with my faith. I was not an in your face kind of guy when it came to spirituality and the supernatural. My relationship with God was a personal one.

Nevertheless, I spent the evening with Peter and his friends singing Psalms and praising the Lord. I was more of an observer than an active participant but I did admire their commitment and tried to be seen as among them as an active colleague of the Lord. I was impressed with their devotion, especially those young men and women, who were not yet worldly or experienced in life. Living on blind faith alone brought them all a sense of peace and wonderment, fulfilment, happiness. My only hope for them was that the burdens of life, of living, of making a living does not undermine their spiritual contentment and positivity with the aura of cynicism and despair that life’s challenges can deliver.

Peter and I left the meeting with a renewed sense of revival, at least for him as I had always been a believer. It seemed to me that these people had to justify their spiritual beliefs, their existential existence in a secular world that shunned them for their beliefs and their faith overtly. The revival meetings became their lifeline from the real danger of backsliding into a world of pleasure and deception. It was that world that many of them knew so well and were keenly frightened of.

We got back to our boats and said goodnight. Nothing more was said. I fell asleep mindful of the evening events. A sense of peace enveloped me. I was content. I was out for the count.

The next morning Peter stopped me before I could leave for my morning routine of coffee, smokes, and “S” square times two.

“Jim…Jim, I hope you enjoyed the meeting last night. I hope we weren’t too presumptuous in our faithful exuberance with you.”

“I did Peter…and no you weren’t. Thank you very much for inviting me.”

“Just one thing Jim.” Peter went on. I had a hard time falling asleep last night so I came back topside for a short spell to clear my mind, rationalize my thoughts.”

I nodded to him

“The strangest thing occurred to me Jim. And I hope you don’t feel ill with me for telling you this as I know how this sounds. But it is the truth, so help me God”

He had my undivided interest now.

“Yeah, go on.”

“While I was sitting there in reflection of the night’s events, a vision enveloped my senses. It came over me, smothered me but more importantly it came over Akaru-Hime. Your boat lit up like a beacon of light. There in the pulpit of your sailboat sat an angel. It or she or he was resplendent in white: a blinding brilliance of righteousness and holiness. It was a guardian angel Jim. I know how this sounds but I swear it to be the truth. I had to tell you.”

“Really?” was about all I could say. I didn’t know what to think.

“I know…I know…I know Jim. I know this sounds crazy but it happened. As God is my witness. He paused for a brief moment to collect his thoughts and then continued. “Then the angel looked directly at me Jim, and smiled, and then looked over your boat. It spread its wings out and then in as if to signal to all of the world…to me…protection. Don’t you see Jim? You and Nigel have nothing to worry about. Akaru-Hime has the protection of the Lord. You will be safe.”

I didn’t know what to say to Peter. All I could do was offer a grin of questionable understanding and acceptance for what he said. It was an uncomfortable moment: for Peter to tell me this and for me to acknowledge his supernatural experience.

“Thanks for that Peter. It is reassuring for sure.”

I looked forward to the pulpit. There was nothing there but the stainless steel guardrails or the pulpit and the boats beyond. Nevertheless, I smiled, nodded my head to whoever may be there unseen except in the spiritual domain.

A sense of security did come over me and I felt extremely happy.

Thank you Peter.

SJ…Out

 

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