Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unsinkable

It was on this day in 1912 that the R.M.S. Titanic departed Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. It was supposed to arrive in New York City on April 15th.

It was the biggest passenger ship ever built at the time at 882 feet long and 92 feet wide. Its hull had a capacity of more than four and a half million cubic feet. The Titanic is generally remembered as a luxury liner, but only 325 of the 2,224 people on board were traveling in first class. Many of the passengers were European immigrants hoping to start new lives in America.
On the fifth night of the ship's voyage, the weather was clear and windless. There was no moon. It had been an especially warm winter and many icebergs had broken off from glaciers farther north, so the lookout men had been told to keep an eye out for them. At about 11:40, one of the lookouts, Frederick Fleet, saw a huge dark object floating in the water in front of the ship. He yelled, "Iceberg right ahead," and rang an alarm bell. Many of the passengers awake that night later said that they felt a slight bump.

The sinking of the Titanic was one of the worst maritime disasters in history, and it has been a great inspiration to all kinds of artists. More than 500 songs were written about the disaster, most famously "It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down" by Pop Stoneman, with the lines, "Oh they threw the lifeboats out o'er the dark and stormy sea / The band struck up with 'Nearer My God to Thee' / Children wept and cried as the water rushed through the side / It was sad when that great ship went down." We used to sing that one at summer camp, echoing "oh it was sad, mighty bad" yelling. Never thinking about the words, the people. The disaster has also been the subject of more than a hundred books and at least a dozen movies.

One of my favorites is the 1964 movie where a fictional story of Margaret Tobin Brown, better know as The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Born and raised in wilderness, Molly left to Leadville to seek her fame and fortune, where she met Johnny Brown and the two found their fortunes in silver and gold mines. After striking it rich, they moved to Denver to mingle with the wealthy. However they do not receive the welcome mat from the high society of Denver so they head for Europe to improve their image. While in Europe, the Browns meet the "Crown Heads" of Europe and invite them to Denver. Only to end up in a huge scuffle that ends up in the sports page of the local paper. Johnny is fed up with this rich lifestyle and wants to return to Leadville. However, Molly wants to return to Europe. So the two go their separate ways. While in Europe, Molly begins to miss Johnny so she decides to travel back home on the infamous Titanic where Molly gains her nickname by her bravery through the disaster. When Molly meets Johnny back in Denver, the two make amends.

In the movie, Molly Brown decided not to be content with the circumstances that life dealt her. This week I met women at an area wide ladies function who choose not to be content with what life handed them either. Both have dealt with cancer, one helping her sister through brain cancer it and the other in the throws of breast cancer herself - and pregnant.

Monday started it all off with one huge challenge after another. The kids weren't getting around in the morning, couldn't even put their shoes on by themselves. Clayton was late to school. I was late to the orthodontist - even got pulled over for rolling through a stop sign even - in too much of a hurry ...once I finally got to work, it was discovered that we hadn't invited any students to the education class we were hosting the next day - shift to "Plan B." Billy was out of town for business half the week. We need a new roof and our air conditioner went out this week. We've already allocated our tax refund money about 6 different ways. I was feeling pretty defeated, pretty covered up by the circumstances - trying to dodge the icebergs.

But Thursday I heard the stories of these women, listened to them talk about their dealings with God, saw their joy amidst the waves. It's amazing how God places people in your path who lift your head to Him at just the right time. I was too worried about the sinking ship that I never saw the life boats, never trusted that He's already sent for help. And what if He's already moved the icebergs and the ships not sinking after all?

I want to weather the storm like Molly Brown, but I don't want to be counted as brave, just faithful.
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