Monday, April 13, 2009

Did Anybody Notice...

...that the whole pirate/hostage thing went down right as Easter and Passover were being celebrated?

As nice, safe people in warm,clean churches and synagogues and comfortable homes were speaking of freedom, bondage, renewal, and hope, all of these were playing out for real in the waters off Somalia.

The whole idea of pirates, and the nearly utterly defenseless position of merchant vehicles, both fascinates and horrifies us. Yet, we are always almost that defenseless against life's tragedies and terrors. We are just more able to prettify and pretend we are safe.

There is an essay by Mary Oliver that captures this sense of the tension this world offers us: horror and beauty, safety and fear.

"The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I live too. There is only one world." (Mary Oliver, "Owls")

I thought about her words when I heard the chief of the rescued crew say that the world of the ocean, the world of shipping vessels, is one world. There are, he said,"a global community.....", no separate nations at sea. All humans who ply the seas are connected.

Nothing about the pirates is glamorous or romantic. They are desperate, completely disenfranchised people whose despair we can probably never understand. But somehow in the words, coming from this sailor, were a powerful glimmer of hope:

This is one world.