When is a cruise not a cruise? When accommodation is at one end of a non-floating ship and restaurants, gaming rooms and entertainment are at the other end. I have never been on an ocean cruise but I understand that one of the ways cruises are marketed is by assuring people they will never have to leave the ship. Everything you need is on board. Indeed, such trips come with a warning that leaving the ship, when not in port, would be hazardous to one’s health.
That kind of hazard is not a problem when you find yourself on a non-floating ship. At a conference at Tweed Heads I found myself on just such a ship. Every ship has its bridge and its captain. On my non-floating ship the bridge straddled the street below and all who walked its deck claimed captain status.
I, of course, was a visitor but I was surprised to realise that this was the retired destination of dreams. The best, some might suggest, money can buy. Everything was provided such that you never had to leave the ship. The weather outside was hot but inside, without weather, it was regulated comfort. The shopping centres outside were a flourish of people and fashion, while inside you could avoid people and exist in unchanging surrounds. Outside the ship a cosmopolitan cuisine was served, while inside the buffet carried the usual fare. Inside, the gym provided, I never saw used and nor did you need to with life so wonderfully contained. When it doesn’t take much effort to walk the bridge in the morning and walk back to your room again at the end of the day, why spoil life with exercise. One could think, that those outside hope to be on the inside, while all around the inside people put their hopes on the press of a button and the watching of spinning wheels. Indeed, for those who only ever live inside, those spinning wheels had done much to provide the insider’s journey and for some the hope of the future was in their proliferation.
As a visitor, I found myself imbibing the culture - loathe to get out of bed, uneasy about facing the heat, and why try something new when the offerings seemed sufficient. Perhaps it was the hope gambled on spinning wheels or my passing other captains that awoke in me the fact that something was very wrong. For days I had not ventured out beyond the confines of my little world. I had felt no breeze but that of the air conditioner, I watched the outside world on TV and viewed an untouchable creation through a window. To go outside might affect my comforts, impact my attitudes and touch my senses in a real way.
Now I don’t want to upset the cruise ship lovers, or those whose “Mantra” is the love of convenience. However, when life is so well contained that you fail to venture outside then it’s unsurprising that your world, your thinking, your knowing can become so very small and your enjoyments so very limited. What a sadness to live but leave almost no footprints. Standing in a descending elevator, surrounded by posters to entertainment impersonators I had to wonder if the entertained on this ship were themselves impersonating life rather than living it.
The truth is that we can all set cruise ship limits to life, locking ourselves into patterns and viewpoints that we comfort ourselves with when the life outside beckons exploration. Life is really very short and many short-lived people have gone before. The adventure is in knowing what comes next and that must take you outside, outside yourself. It requires some time off your cruise ship exploring life and discovering its Giver. Discovering the truth about the Giver of life might require you stepping off the ship of a closed minded world and to experience the world of God’s making and the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it the full”. Discover this truth and you will also come to realise that the only true captain on the bridge is God and in Him hope springs eternal.
Armidale Anglican Diocese