I just finished Chesapeake by Michener, a book that found me thoroughly hooked by the end of the second chapter. As the times progressed, (and I promise not to give out the ending of the story), I thought of my own family and how they moved across the ocean and to the frontier of the New World.
One particular family story sticks in my mind as I think of the settlers. Leaving from Wales, a husband and wife, and their two boys boarded a ship and sailed the Atlantic to arrive in Penn’s colony. It must have taken such nerve to leave home, family, friends, and a way of life for parts literally unknown. But, to top it off, the third boy was due soon and born while at sea. They named him Seaborn Lewis. Every once in a while I think about what it must have been like to travel across the sea like that and what the general feeling was upon that ship. With a new baby and two little boys to get underfoot, under deck, and under anything else on a ship where there could be mischief; how did they handle that? Was this young mother frightened over the colony that awaited her or excited. Did she stand on the deck and watch her home slowly move farther and farther into the horizon, or did she look out to the home that would be? Regardless of her fears and possible hesitations, this wife and mother made the journey and raised her family to be part of their new community.
I moved around a bit as a kid. Sometimes it wasn’t too hard, other times it was dreadfully difficult. Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, Ohio, Iowa…. Schools changed, friends were made and left, neighborhoods were known and then left. I developed a strong distaste for that song Friends, by Michael W. Smith, because I heard it so much. In this day and age, there are many ways to communicate with the people who were and are part of my life, though separated by many miles. Skype, facebook, e-mail, telephone, letters, photos, packages, or even trips; my possibilities are full of options. With that, I think about how that would have been so different in the 1600s. A letter, carried on a ship over an ocean, perhaps a package or a silhouette. Whole families would have sprung up with barely knowing each other as an ocean separated them. The words on long awaited letters must have been cherished.
I pass people on the sidewalk, sit next to them at church, talk to them in random conversations. I wonder how many of them have had someone reach out to bring cherished words. As they also need someone who seeks to understand them, the feeling of separation or conquering their own ocean.