Stranger On The Shore
August 13, 2016 | Reflections from Sr Antonia
"Why oh why must I go on like this
Shall I just be a lonely stranger on the shore?"
When I was in my 20's I dreamed of seeing the world. Perhaps you did too. When, having saved my fare, I was finally able to realise that dream I booked a passage on "The Australis", a Greek passenger liner which was to sail from Sydney to England via the Panama Canal. How enticing! How exciting! I couldn't wait. Fiji, Acapulco, Balboa, Cristobal, Miami, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven and finally Southampton. Seven whole weeks of exciting shipboard life. What more could a '20 something' want!!
I will never forget the moment "The Australis" silently, so silently, slid from the dock at Woolloomooloo, streamers tearing, family and friends in tears and myself fairly obvious to all but my own excitement and feelings of anticipation.
What was it out there waiting for me? Would it satisfy the deeper yearnings of my heart, barely known, let alone acknowledged?
The little tugboats deftly nudged my ship, and me, further and further away from my loved ones. Before long we were out to sea. And suddenly I felt very, very small and very, very alone. Tears of apprehension teetered on the edge of my eyelids, without quite spilling over. Earlier, I had stood on the deck and leaned over the railings, watching until I could see land no longer. And it was then that I realized the enormity of what I was doing. Too late to change my mind, I turned to face the journey ahead.
Why all these musings now? For some reason the words to the 1961 song "Stranger On The Shore" (released first as a clarinet piece in 1961, and set to words a year later) have been echoing in my mind.
"The sighing of the waves
The wailing of the wind
The tears in my eyes,
Pleading, my love return."
Robert Mellin 1962
The shores of eternity await us all, calling us to a different kind of journey. Will the stranger waiting on the shore for us be Jesus? Will he know us? Will we know Him? Does He shed tears for us as he sees us disappearing into the distance?
We can so easily be lured away from a journey we are all invited to make by the excitement and exhilaration of foreign lands, whether they be the lands of success, power, money, work, or even family. Do we avoid facing the alternative, putting it off until we have more time? Have we allowed ourselves to be lured by the exotic; the excitement of the unknown?
The reality is that our true journey is actually already happening NOW as I write, and as you read. And it is the journey toward the 'shores of eternity'. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God is the ship that takes us there; and, if we invite Him, He also becomes our fellow passenger; and when we reach those shores He will know us and we will know Him.
Have you boarded your ship to make the one journey necessary? Is the lonely stranger on the shore watching helplessly (because He leaves us free to choose) as we set out for foreign lands, just as my beautiful parents did all those long years ago?
"Come back to me with all your heart
Let not fear keep us apart
Long have I waited for your coming home to me
And living deeply our new life."
"The Hosea Song" Gregory Norbert OSB and Marie David Callahan OSB