I can only guess what it was like for this early monks when they first sighted land having been at sea for a reasonable period. It would have been several days, as an example, between Scotland and the Faroes, similar the Faroes to Iceland. Today is Canada day and a whole nation has been waiting to celebrate their national day. The national hope and expectation has been tangible with the various signs evident, such as banners and flags etc. Back in the late 1980’s, in Antigua, we had a whale come into the harbour at night. I could hear it but I never saw it, despite it being only a few feet from our boat. I spent my whole life waiting and hoping to see a whale in the wild. Sure, in the mid 1990’s I saw a killer whale in California in captivity but it felt like a fraud, not the real thing. I just felt for this magnificent creature held captive for human entertainment and my most fervent hope was that it would be freed. Last summer, in taking our vessel north to ‘shake her down’ we saw a minke whale off Arran. In a similar fashion to the first time I saw dolphins (and most times since) this was a major spiritual experience for me, 30 years of hoping and finally a successful conclusion. This year we glimpsed a minke near Iona, it felt right. Today we head North to Tadoussac to head out on a R.I.B in the hope of seeing whales, possibly Fin, Beluga, Minke, Hump backs and even, a long shot, a blue whale. Both my wife and I believe we might be reduced to tears if we succeed.
In the bible there is a wonderful passage about a similar hope, although what is hoped for is far more impressive than seeing a blue whale. Simeon spends his life hoping to see the Jewish Messiah, the impossible situation of God, a force more powerful than our universe, reaching out and experiencing humanity in all it’s forms. Such an impossible hope but like my hope for thirty years to see a whale in the wild, one that for Simeon finally comes true, despite the odds. I can feel his tears of joy, like my own, through his words.
Link to Simeon’s story: