Good afternoon dear Blogland Friends,
Last night I had a vivid dream that immediately influenced the theme of today’s blog: “Is Anybody Listening?”
The dream was of a sinking ship. It was a small ship with a big foghorn. The night was dark, and I was standing in the dark waters near the shoreline. The ship quickly sank, but I could touch the foghorn with my hand and was desperately calling to gain the attention of the search party ships farther out to sea. But they never responded. My cries fell on deaf ears. All lives were lost. It was a sad dream and I was glad to wake up and see the morning sunshine again.
However, the dream aroused many memories of my childhood growing up in the seaport of Liverpool, England. Memories of great ships moored at the Pier Head, with the majestic Gothic-style Royal Liver Building looking out across the River Mersey. Somewhere beyond those waves was America. At least that’s what my youngster’s mind imagined while my family waited for the next ferry boat to take us for a day’s outing on the pleasant sands of New Brighton.
Coming home across the Mersey, seamen could easily read the time on the 25-foot diameter clock faces of the Royal Liver Building. The building is crowned by two clock towers, and standing atop each one is a sculpture of the mythical Liver Bird – seemingly rooted in the seal of Liverpool’s town charter granted by King John in 1207.
It was always that ever-watchful liver bird that seemed to welcome me back as our ferry boat pulled into the Pier Head again. Years later, I watched it fade away as I set sail for America on a stormy New Year’s day. I was aboard the Cunard Line’s Franconia (the ship Winston Churchill used as headquarters for the famous Yalta Conference with Roosevelt and Stalin in 1945). Foghorns could be heard, almost a dirge, warning of the treacherous Atlantic conditions ahead….and a solemn reminder of the most famous and greatest ship in Liverpool’s Port of Registry – The Titanic.
Undoubtedly, the tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic is one of maritime’s most haunting examples of the cry, “Is Anybody Listening?” Launched on her maiden voyage April 10, 1912, the world’s largest and most luxurious ship of the day; the ship that was even claimed to be “unsinkable,” met its fatal collision with an iceberg two days later. But was anybody listening?
A wireless message from the steamer America, warning the Titanic of large icebergs, failed to reach her bridge. Personal passenger messages to the Marconi wireless operators took precedence over “non-essential” ice messages. Another ship’s warning also failed to reach the bridge. Then, at 11:40 pm, April 14th, Titanic’s lookouts, Fleet and Lee, spotted a massive iceberg. Instantly sounding the ship’s bell and telephoning the officer on the bridge, Fleet shouted, “Iceberg right ahead!” Barely 37 seconds later, the iceberg rendered its crushing blow and The Titanic began to sink, with 2,224 souls aboard.
Those precious lives hung on the hope – “Is anybody listening?,” as the Titanic’s officers desperately launched distress rockets, SOS signals, and Morse Code lamps to reach a nearby ship. It never responded. The SS Californian, also nearby, saw the distress rockets but had turned off its wireless for the night.
Only the Liverpool Carpathian ship was “listening:” and she was 58 miles away. But through dangerous ice fields, and with heat and hot water turned off to gain as much steam-engine efficiency as possible, Captain Arthur Rostron steered his ship to the Titanic’s rescue in just under four hours. The Carpathian rescued 705 survivors. Captain Rostron was awarded America’s Congressional Medal of honor for his valor.
Over 1500 Titanic lives perished, including a large number of the crew and officers who came from my home town of Liverpool. The famed orchestra, which kept on playing as the ship went down, was formed in Liverpool. Hundreds of our Liverpool families wept. And the world did, too.
What a tragic ending to the Titanic’s cry, “Is anybody listening?” And I’m sure that cry echoes around the world daily, for all kinds of reasons. Dear reader, have you ever sent out a call for help – and no one responds?
I wrote on this theme in the Christian Mother Goose Big Book, and here’s how it came about:
My husband, Dale, and I were having dinner together at a restaurant, when I asked him: “Would you like to hear what I wrote today for the Big Book?” Then…my dearest, loyal, most enthusiastic cheerleader husband replied, “I can’t listen when I’m eating, love.” I blinked, swallowed, then grinned, suddenly inspired (by Dale’s unexpected response) to include “Is Anybody Listening” in the Big Book.
So…Dale kept on eating, and I kept on writing (on napkins) an outline for “Is Anybody Listening?” It eventually became two pages of the Big Book where a little boy gives up on finding someone to listen to his day’s events, and disappears inside his bed to tell everything to himself. Then, in the last verse, Lord’s voice speaks inside the child:
How blessed we are to know and serve our listening, Omnipotent Father God Who dearly loves His children, and entreats us to call upon Him, whatever our need. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17). “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee…” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Blessings in Jesus … and thank you for listening.
Christian Mother Goose®