Elders Letter December 2018 / January 2020
A few years ago, I was writing an Elder’s Letter about the unexpected joys of a stay-at-home vacation. It can almost be like seeing our immediate environment again for the first time and learning to ignore the rain, which too often we tend to regard as disappointing. On the other hand, perhaps some of us have happy memories of exhilarating times in wind or rain, enjoying a walk in a downpour or hearing the patter
of raindrops hitting leaves. As a child I could think of nowhere better to live than a farm whatever the weather. I was certainly only thinking of a farm in the summer
though! I also used to love to watch a stormy sea crashing and foaming on to a beach – so long as I did not have to sail a boat or swim in it.
This winter, my attention turns away from holidaymakers’ preferences for beautiful scenes in summer pastures or for the excitement of tall waves and tall cliffs. I think
about some of the harsh realities of these environments. For instance I know how some farming friends of mine get very little sleep during the spring lambing season.
At the height of lambing they are awake at some time nearly every night tending ewes. Indeed, when we think about it, all four seasons require strenuous work of one
type or another on a farm. They are not the kind of activities that most holidaymakers seek out or even know anything much about. Similarly, some inexperienced swimmers, sailors or rock climbers anywhere around the coast of the British Isles may be grateful that some of their adventures did not end in tragedy because they were rescued by men and women of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. If you
have watched the TV series: ‘Saving Lives at Sea,’ you may have admired the skills, knowledge and bravery shown by all the RNLI crews as they go out all year round, to save not only professional sailors from sinking vessels of all types and sizes but also to save holidaymakers who get into difficulties in the sea. They will go out in any weather even to rescue dogs and horses and other animals. The most wonderful
thing is that these men and women are all dedicated volunteers. They make no charge for their services and they are willing to risk their own lives whenever they
launch a lifeboat. Indeed, there are well known stories of lifeboat crews that have been lost at sea when out on a call even in modern times.
So let us remember Lifeboat crews this winter. There may be fewer holidaymakers sailing or swimming our coastal waters at this time of the year, but there may be more fishermen and merchant navy sailors caught up in dangerous conditions. Let us pray for the safe return to station of every lifeboat that puts out to sea in rough weather in the next few months.