This article was first published on 03/03/2020 .
Do you ever leave the harbour to get on a vessel you will guide along without a ritual? Do you face the dangerous challenges during your work on your pilot boats not knocking on wood?
Or do you never have a good-luck-charm in your pocket?
Let´s be honest: we all used to have one of those. Or are still keeping them in the glove department of our cars, in our backpacks or around our neck.
I never leave the house without my cross pendant. I need the affirmation of my faith around my neck. It reminds me of who I am, of what I believe in and it’s a sign that I am a Christian. No more no less.
When I perform burials at sea I make sure to have a wooden cross in my gown`s pocket as well - to feel it and to reassure my faith while being on a boat for hours. I do trust the people taking me to sea but being a landlubber I need my very own ritual to feel save...
Rituals are important, their performances are supposed to give us strength and hope. Doing them can help facing the rough facts of live.
Some rituals are deeply religious.
Champagne bottles and shards
Ship`s christening for example.
The wonderful spectacle of throwing a bottle of champagne at a ship and watching it burst into bubbles, froth and shards. Unbelievable great - and important.
Ships and vessels do need a name. They have to have a name. Pilot Boats do too. And they are called by their names. Have it printed on their sides. So everybody can see them, read them, recognize them and love them.
The ritual of christening or baptizing ships might be much older than Christianity, the Romans did it long before they even thought of becoming the center of this Religion. Naming a ship is important, because it is more than a workplace.
No water, no christening
Why do we have to have a name anyway? Why do we have a ritual containing water (or Champagne in case of ships) to get our „christian name“?
Our names are more than just letters. We have so many names...much more than we even think about. We are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, partners, lovers, colleagues, superiors, apprentices, we are called „hey you“, we are „come on board“, or „you, do take that ladder“.
And to celebrate the giving of the most important name in a beautiful ritual makes us strong. Gives us an importance we should not underestimate.
We do need our names. They identify us. And ships and boats do need theirs as well.
If it´s a God given gift to be named during a christening, that I do not know. But I am sure it means no harm to call a vessel or a pilot boat by its name. The name it was given in a ritual.
In church a christening means more than just a ritual. It is God´s promise to take care of that human being from now on. As a baptized christian I belong to God. I am reciprocating his love to me in answering „yes“ to him. The water of the christening will dry and disappear in a heartbeat. Like the champagne froth will do on the ship´s bow. But the name will remain, forever. And so will the blessing.
The „Titanic“ never got its name in a christening...
Never forget that rituals, tradition and the idea of something bigger than us, carry us through the storms of life.
A blessing wil never do any harm. Never. But it can make things possible.
The White Star Line refused to christening their ships by the way. They „did not believe in this practice“.....So the infamous „Titanic“ did not get a ritual or a blessing. Just saying.
Whatever we trust in, whatever the rituals or traditions you Marine Pilots have - when you board your pilot boats, climb the ladders, get the vessels through the harbour - keep them and cherish them, they are good and they are important.
Trust and faith needs reassurance. As a dangerous job does as well.
Whenever I get on a boat, whether it is for work or leisure, I always think that God chose to need water for the blessed ritual of christening.
And when Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist, he went right into the river Jordan and got as wet as he could be. Water and blessings do belong together.
The Old Testament has a wonderful verse to reassure us God´s guidance in the waters of our lives. Isaiah 43.2 : „When you pass through the waters, I will be with you“