Sailing Away

March, 2010: Aboard our Boat
Profound Grief, Profound Faith
Saturday Rich and I attended a memorial service and committal at sea for our friend Clay. His wife and my husband have worked together for 24 years. Clay fought cancer for a year and a half before being called home on August 23. He was 50 years old.
The church service was beautiful. Clay sang with the Oceanaires, a men’s a capella chorus, for many years; friends from that group sang during the memorial. One of his sisters sang; another spoke of the family’s steadfast faith and how God had carried them through Clay’s illness.
Following a reception at the church, we drove to San Pedro and boarded the Exy Johnson for the committal. Clay and his wife had met as volunteers sailing tall ships; friends made up the crew on Saturday night. It was good to be among people who loved him for this final boat ride together. After Clay’s wife, dad and sisters had scattered his ashes, we ate and we sang. Everyone agreed that it was exactly the send off that Clay would have wanted.
Mindful of the special pain that accompanies losing a child, I approached Clay’s father, Tom, on the dock after we’d returned to port. I offered a hug and asked, “How are you?” I steeled myself, preparing for tears.
This godly man’s face was overtaken by a luminous smile. “This has been a wonderful day,” he said.
1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT)


  1. The Ship of Life
    By John T. Baker

    Along the shore I spy a ship
    As she sets out to sea;

    She spreads her sails and sniffs the breeze
    And slips away from me.

    I watch her fading image shrink,
    As she moves on and on,

    Until at last she’s but a speck,
    Then someone says, “She’s gone.”

    Gone where? Gone only from our sight
    And from our farewell cries;

    That ship will somewhere reappear
    To other eager eyes.

    Beyond the dim horizon’s rim
    Resound the welcome drums,

    And while we’re crying, “There she goes!”
    They’re shouting, “Here she comes!”

    We’re built to cruise for but a while
    Upon this trackless sea

    Until one day we sail away
    Into infinity.