Coal Dust and Diamonds Under Sails
The milky light of the full moon was washing down the sails of the ship. Under a steady wind the Russian four-masted barque “Sedov” ploughed through the waves of the Baltic Sea. The giant sails stood perfectly still against the wind. The swell was too small to make the huge ship roll, so the “Sedov” was gliding in calm serenity through the ocean as is due to her majesty, the biggest of the remaining tall ships of a time when windjammers graced the oceans of the world. I was on duty on the fo’c’s’le. I was supposed to stare into the night to discover any problem hidden in the vast expanse of darkness that surrounded us. Every half hour I had to ring the ship’s bell in double rhythm to let anybody who was awake and on duty know how long it was to the next shift. Lore stood there with me. She was an AB*, very experienced in square rigger seamanship. We gazed in the night until we were almost drunk on the amazing beauty around us. Now and then we spoke a few words, shared pains and joys of our lives that brought us to this moment, on the sea under a star filled night sky. The moment expanded, it grew and the old ship and the sea embraced us and shared their eternal company with us.
I do not remember much of what we talked about. Yet one sentence that Lore said is engraved into my soul: “It is our choice if life grinds us down to coal dust or if it polishes us to diamonds.” The pain and beauty and grandeur and the freedom of choice contained in these few words will stay present with me every day of my life. Whenever I am in pain, these words, spoken some thirty years ago still reach me. With them the memory of the stark beauty and grandeur of that moon lit night opens my heart and widens my soul. It turns my suffering into a still painful, yet guided, purposeful direction in the blessed movement of life.
What holds you up in the dark moments of life? What gave you the strength to continue when the pain of body or soul was almost overwhelming? Many friends who read this newsletter, would appreciate your story. If you have loved ones or friends who are having a tough time, forward these stories to them to inspire and encourage them. Let them know that the hurtful friction and the grinding of the process of life can, if not always be transformed into a smooth gliding through gentle waves, at least be greatly alleviated by a skilful homeopathic treatment.
- Footnote: AB, in Canada that usually means Alberta. However, in the context of our story it refers as a nautical term to a sailor with a high degree of professional training (Able Bodied Seaman)