Cruising the Caribbean, Part 2 of 3

Jewel of the SeasThe memory of the Jewel of the Seas stays with me — that huge, sleek white vessel on which we sailed the vivid blue waters of the Caribbean only two weeks ago. Kathleen and I were with 30 Christian friends from Light and Life Park in Florida, which made for wonderful community while on board.

But the rest of the 2,400 passengers were strangers to us. That meant that in our moving throughout the ship we most often encountered people we didn’t know.

I usually find it easy to make conversation with people I don’t know. So, for example, when I met someone coming down the long, narrow corridors in the private quarters, I offered a friendly greeting. Or when passengers were gathering for a meal or waiting for an elevator, I spoke and sometimes had a brief conversation.

This is what I observed. In most cases, people we don’t know wait to be greeted. It is natural and self-protective to be hesitant in the presence of strangers. But when they hear a warm hello, they tend to respond in kind. That little observation makes me note the obvious: we are created for human relationships; to be human means to be social. And sometimes the first casual words of a greeting penetrate into a stranger’s self-imposed isolation — for their benefit. The simple exchange is actually good for both parties. If you have a different take on that observation, I’d love to hear it.

During the ship’s stop at Grand Cayman Island, this observation about relationships refined itself even more sharply. Our ship cast anchor off shore, and diesel launches carrying passengers plied the distance between ship and shore. Most of our friends went ashore to visit the shops, take a tour, or just look around. Kathleen and I had decided to stay aboard ship.

But our plans were suddenly changed when a crew member phoned our quarters to ask if we had grandchildren on the Island. We knew that two had recently made the move, but we had no way of finding them. To our surprise, we learned that they and their two little children had met the boat and were calling from shore.

We hurried to board a launch and shortly thereafter when we set foot on the dock all four of them were waving eagerly from behind a dividing barrier. There stood granddaughter Kathleen, her husband Doug, Ethan, five, and Justin, three. The little ones rushed into our arms. The parents drove us to their temporary residence where we ate pizza, took pictures and chatted until it was time for us to return to the ship.

Back on board, some of our friends had heard of our good fortune and came to us brimming with delight at what had happened. They thought meeting relatives at a distance and unexpectedly was a rare treat.

The response from several was so warm about these relationships that it told us much about their family values. They seemed more excited about our unexpected meeting than if we had won a flat-screen TV as a door prize somewhere, or been invited to dine with a head of state.

Brief intermittent exchanges with strangers on board ship, unexpected meetings with family members at a great distance from our Canadian dwellings, and pleasant commendations from friends when we were back on ship all have a common ingredient: human relationships that nourish life! When they are blessed with the bond of Christian faith, they have that added ingredient of grace.

Click here to read part 3 in this series.

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7 thoughts on “Cruising the Caribbean, Part 2 of 3

  1. Very insightful post. The Anabaptist church we’ve been attending since we moved here often comments on how we as humans are created for relationship. God created Adam for relationship with Him, and then created Eve so that we could additionally have relationship with each other too. In fact one could posit that all sins are actually sins against relationship – either relationship with each other, relationship with God, or relationship with ourselves (which I find hard to explain to others, but I think is a valid category).
    More and more I’m seeing evidence of this desire for honest, true relationship – much as you noticed on the cruise.
    I’m glad you had such a great time, and continue to look forward to your posts.

  2. You have reminded me of how much I yearn to be with our children and grandchildren. These 19 months serving as interim pastor in Perth, along with distant moves by some of the family, have kept us separated from them. Happily, we have e-mails and Skype and telephones. I am so glad you had that lovely surprise in Grand Cayman.

  3. Your meeting with your family was truly one of the most exciting things in our ten-day cruise, and it was exciting for all of us, vicariously. When wonderful things happen to wonderful people, rejoicing is produced!

    Saying good-bye this morning was difficult, but we have a multitude of happy memories to cherish.

    • Dear jane and Bill:

      When I took Kathleen as my bride to my home and family in Saskatchewan in December of 1947, she had never met any of them. It was not an easy experience for her but she took it with resolution and won the hearts of all the family. As we were leaving on the old “Souris train” to Winnipeg and thence back to Toronto, and Lorne Park College, my 21-year-old bride said, “Life is a series of hellos and good byes.” So it has always been. We were ambivalent about leaving the Park but we knew we had to get back to our northern home and the safety of government- provided medical care because the coverage we had was running out.

      Incidentally, I know your love for the specifics of financial matters, Jane, so here’s the story of the cost of gasoline in Brampton with a little rounding out of fractions. An imperial gallon is four-and-a-half liters (“litres” in Canada). A liter this morning is $1.32 and a fraction. So, an imperial gallon this morning costs $5.94 by my reckoning. But an American gallon is only four-fifths of an imperial gallon, so to compare with American prices, a gallon costs $4.72. At least, that’s how I figure it. The lowest cost on our trip home was $3.55 plus a fraction. The highest, in Erie, PA was 3.75 and a fraction. The large station advertised itself as “The lowest price around, guaranteed.”

      Thanks to both of you for the trouble you took to help us with the couple of details we had overlooked. We now have high speed and Fox news so we are in business.



  4. Pingback: Cruising the Caribbean, Part 1 of 3 « Just Call Me Pastor

  5. Pingback: Cruising the Caribbean, Part 3 of 3 « Just Call Me Pastor

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