A Parable: The Story of a Ship

There was once a very fine and great ship that was sailing across the Ocean to Paradise. Other ships, smaller but also very fine, sailed near her, all steering in the same direction. Sometimes the great ship sailed very swiftly with favourable winds, but sometimes the winds were contrary or the ship was becalmed and made little headway. Then one day, the eye of a catastrophic hurricane passed right over the great ship. Seeing so terrible a storm nearing them, some passengers and sailors got off the great ship. With tears in their eyes they sailed away in the lifeboat, despite the many trials which they knew that awaited them ahead.

Those in the lifeboat found refuge in various distant foreign ports, at first enduring great poverty and suffering. Some at the foreign ports welcomed the lifeboat and helped the people in it, but many were hostile and wanted them only to abandon their lifeboat and become like themselves and forget all about Paradise. Faithful to the great ship and its course set for Paradise, the sailors and passengers stubbornly refused to do this. Not only this, but some local people in the foreign ports who also wanted to go to Paradise came on board the lifeboat.

Meanwhile, most people, including the captain, who had stayed on the great ship, were suffering immensely. The hurricane was terrifying and many perished. Some thought that the ship would certainly sink. Eventually, swept off course by the hurricane and in a desperate plight, the ship had no alternative but to take refuge in the nearest port. However, all suffered greatly in that port for it had been occupied by enemies and later came under attack from other ports. A great many perished. Nevertheless, after some time, many people managed to get back on board the ship and waited to set sail once more

Meanwhile, those in the lifeboat that had stopped at other ports, headed out into the Ocean. Finding the port where the great ship was moored, they waited in their lifeboat. Some on board called out to those in the great ship, others looked on sceptically at the damage to the great ship. Eventually, the great ship was ready to leave the port. Not without difficulty it reunited with the passengers and sailors in the lifeboat and got back on course for Paradise. However, even though the great ship and the lifeboat resumed the right direction together, they both needed repairs after the damage which they had suffered.

Today, the damage is still being repaired. Much has been done, but there is still much more to do and it takes time. But it is a miracle that both are still in one piece. Both ship and lifeboat have suffered from the hurricane and from ports, where they took on board local supplies which were rotten and should not have been brought on board. Gradually, these rotten supplies are leaking overboard, but it takes time to recognise that they are rotten and there have been several individual cases of food poisoning.

Despite these passing incidents, the great ship and the lifeboat are now sailing side by side and heading once more towards Paradise. There are exchanges of passengers and increasingly of crew, as people from the great ship get into the lifeboat and vice versa. As for the other smaller ships which had been sailing with the great ship before the hurricane struck, these too have suffered. However, now they have begun sailing again too. They are also heading in the same direction, but some of them are sailing very slowly because of the damage they also suffered after the hurricane, even though they were not in its eye. And some on board those smaller ships are also ill because of the rotten supplies that they also took on board. As these leak out, the ships are lighter and can sail more swiftly.

There are other ships in the Ocean too, but they have lost their compass bearings. Some of them are going round and round, others, quite big ones, which long ago lost their bearings, are actually sailing backwards. Some people from these ships have managed to get into the lifeboat and some have got into the great ship or the smaller ships. All are relieved that they are now going in the right direction, though sometimes they suffer from the damage and cases of food poisoning.

However, for those in the great ship and the lifeboat the joy of knowing that we are sailing to Paradise together is immense. Our only concerns are windless days and possibly other storms, perhaps even another hurricane. But for now we sail, gathering speed, seeking favourable winds and fair weather, more and more fearless, intrepid before the vast Ocean and the Sun all before us.