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Monday, July 25, 2016
Water, Water, Everywhere
July 20, 2016

I’m writing on the Queen Mary 2, somewhere in the North Atlantic. We’ve been at sea three nights and are approaching the halfway point in our crossing. The captain and crew are quick to point out that this is not a cruise but a crossing, a form of conveyance, and that the ship is an ocean liner and not a cruise ship. In fact, the QM2 boasts being the largest ocean liner in human history, designed to cross the Atlantic in four days, though we are taking seven.

The sabbatical purpose of this crossing has several purposes. One is retracing the journeys of our ancestors who crossed this ocean under somewhat different circumstances. Another is the chance for Beth and me to have some quiet time together after an intense stretch of family travel throughout Europe. The third purpose relates to the sabbatical theme of water and the refreshment it brings to my soul.

Water is plentiful, the nearest land being 1,000 miles away. It is stunning and I find it refreshing, though I am looking forward to seeing land (perhaps it will be clear and we will see Newfoundland tomorrow). It also gives me a sense of what my ancestors endured, traveling on tiny floating islands that could sink and be tossed and turned by the rolling sea for weeks at a time. They were confined in tiny communities on ships that felt like prisons. Beth and I are enjoying time together, but the ship is large enough, and the activities varied enough, that we can spend time apart and meet new friends. (I met a delightful retired couple at breakfast. They are Baptists from Australia, engaged in lay ministry through a church that might have a home among Mennonites.)

The sabbatical schedule has been full and intense these week but will ease up now, and afford time for writing. College Mennonite seems a very long way indeed, and I miss you all. I plan to use this time at sea to do some reflective writing on the experiences of the last couple of months.