Editor’s note: The following column is in tribute to Christopher Columbus, whose exploration of the New World 520 years ago will be commemorated Monday as part of a federal holiday fixed to the second Monday in October,
This allegory is a commemorating story to honor the memory of Christopher Columbus, and the extreme hardships he suffered on the near fatal voyage that made history when he proved the earth was round, and discovered America Oct. 12, 1492.
It started as a childish question that developed, as Chris grew in intelligence, into a full-grown obsession to prove the earth was round, and shatter the myth that death awaited beyond the horizon in the abyss for foolhardy sailors who dared to take the risk.
In a matter of time, his untested theory created a commotion of negative emotions, as a suicidal notion that caught the attention of Spain’s shrewd-thinking Queen Isabella, into a plan to explore new land to add to her domain, and glorify her name.
The Queen summoned Chris to the palace for more information on rumors circulating about his risky exploration. He left with the queen’s permission to explore new territory to acquire for Spain’s growing empire, in exchange for financing his dream.
He hastily threw his roaming belongings into a duffle bag, and completed the list of 87 rum-dumb sailors he could enlist, to crew his three ships, the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. They loaded cargo aboard and sailed off into the mist from the Spanish port Palos on his mystery trip.
Many long days of sailing, raging storms and no land anywhere put them in a perilous plight. With no end in sight, fear for their lives plagued him day and night.
In the shadow of death at the mercy of the ocean, he raised his hands toward heaven seeking help from a Higher Power. Suddenly, through tears in his eyes, he saw birds in the sky, a good sign land was nearby. With renewed faith in divine revelation, he continued on toward an unknown destination.
After many days with no wind in the sails, and his spirits minus zero on the scales, he discovered a strip of land off starboard side that may be their only hope to survive, and save them from the fate of a watery grave. As they approached it was a heart-breaking sight to see; the barren, rock-bound island was unfit for their family.
In desperation they huddled together for consultation to reassess their situation. Without hesitation, after a prayer for strength and determination, they stayed the course on uncharted waters, and an uncertain fate, for some sign of civilization in God’s creation.
Many grueling days later, it appeared during a rising tide of frustration, and it wasn’t a figment of imagination; it was an expanse of land with coconut trees as far as the eye could see.
As they sailed along the warm, sunny coast, it looked like the Promised Land, a perfect paradise with lots of food to eat to relieve the hunger they had endured for weeks.
It was a blessing beyond belief, and he figured the Israelites felt the same way after 40 years of grumbling and wandering in the wilderness, to cross over Jordan to possess the land flowing with milk and honey.
They scrambled overboard and saw a congregation of pelicans, flamingos and alligators had already established squatters’ rights when they reached shore.
He was overwhelmed with fatigue and relief when his feet stepped on dry land again after 70 days of battling nature’s wrath on the sea. Tears of gratitude ran down his face as he kneeled in the customary manner of his faith, to give thanks for God’s grace, to end his journey of deprivation and misery, in a land of plenty, with all of life’s sustaining needs.
To celebrate their success, they drew the last drop of rum from the dregs that remained, and drank a toast to the grand finale of his lifelong dream. In the waning strength of near starvation, they prepared a feast of food from the land that looked like the Garden of Eden, and ate their fill of the first full meal they had eaten in many weeks.
After they ate, and before he closed his eyes for a restful night’s sleep, he looked up at the moonlit sky and knew God was still on his throne, because he had saved them from doom.
The reward for the hardships they suffered was the inner peace and assurance that soothed his weary body like a healing balm to know the Lord would continue to bless them on their return trip home.