Oct 19, 2006

Ninth Wave of the Sea

Photo via creative commons by Eric Neitzel
There is an ancient belief that if you count the waves at sea, the ninth one will be the most powerful. If you can defeat it and survive, then you can survive anything.

I'm not a sailor, far from it. I'm not real comfortable in a boat. But I am curious. I first learned about this from Tim Serverin's The Brendan Voyage. Actually, Severin says it's the seventh wave, but the point is the same.

I'm working on my first draft of my novel, Brendan the Navigator. I'm at a point where the crew is about to endure a frightening storm at sea, not their first, but definitely their worst.

So, I've been thinking about this ninth wave. What kind of fear must sailors feel as they count them off: five, six, seven . . . they know it's coming, the worst one yet. When it does come, they think they are going to die. But they don't give up. It's not human nature to let go and die. They fight. And once the fight is over and they've won, they know they can endure anything, even though they'd rather not face a ninth wave again.

I don't think I've hit that wave in my own life. But I'm not counting: four, five, six . . . I have a lifesaver. This is a Psalm I'm including at the start of the chapter I mentioned: "You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them." Psalm 89:9

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