Pure – Naked – Fragile; The Most Powerful of Inspirations

I embraced a ten-day vacation and only the first day was spent on the water under sail. That evening was the subject of my last entry, including photos of some of the vessels involved. I was not far from the water, though, traveling to Baltimore, MD and visiting parts of what was once the third largest seaport in the new United States and still receiving large numbers of ocean going sailors and ships. I could feel the ocean in my being, so close to the tide was I.
Seeking more of that feeling I turned to the story of Queen Elizabeth through the movie, Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  I listened to the words of one of her sailors, Sir Walter Raleigh. Contrived as they may be for the film, such an adventure they profess. Sailing my vessel Lifeline at three-to-five knots, I have an appreciation of the words presented.
      “Can you imagine what it is to cross an ocean?”
      “For weeks, you see nothing but the horizon, perfect and empty. You live in the grip of fear; fear of storms – fear of sickness on board – fear of the immensity. So you must drive that fear deep into your belly, study your charts, watch your compass. Pray for a fair wind, and hope…pure,… naked,…fragile… Hope.”
      “At first, it’s no more than a haze on the horizon. Sow you watch,… you watch. Then, it’s a smudge, a shadow on the foul water. For a day,… for another day. The stain slowly spreads along the horizon taking form, until, on the third day you let yourself believe,… you dare to whisper the word… land. Land! Life! Resurrection! The true adventure, coming out of the vast unknown, out of the immensity, into new life.”
      “That, your majesty, is the New World.”
The words mean more than just the story of a sailing voyage, though.  We live in that New World. That “pure, naked, fragile hope” spoken of is the ember, the burning desire that begins what was and remains the American Dream. It is the reason for our Declaration of Independence, the reason so many of our predecessors would give themselves in servitude for seven years (indentured servitude) for the privilege of crossing the ocean to live here.  It is the reason why fifteen thousand men, women, and children – servants, slaves, and free would stand side-by-side to defend Baltimore in September of 1814, and look for that Star Spangled Banner flying over Fort McHenry; why freed slaves would labor for the Union Army to build their war machines (railroad), and what four million of the Greatest Generation would give their lives in service to defend from Nazi oppression in World War II.
That “pure, naked, fragile hope” is the reason so many travel through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico to come into our country, so many board sinking vessels to cross the Caribbean, so many still sell themselves in servitude for passage from Asia.  It is the reason Lady Liberty, standing in New York harbor, is still seen in the minds of all of those so struggling. The lamp she lifts is the light that leads the way to all who seek to build on their pure, naked, fragile dreams, no matter the points they come from on the compass nor what vast, foreboding ocean they must cross because they seek the smudge on the horizon and hope that it grows into the land of freedom.


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