Our less than ideal circumstances can sometimes be changed through a shipwreck, and is best understood in the context of godly love. This is the message of this short story, The Lovewreck.
In this story a man with responsibility loses the power to affect change around him and is instead granted life in an act of love. As the man (Jesus) shows and teaches him true love, he grows in his capacity to love others. His friendship with a friendly girl develops as she too is touched by his love. The concept of being wrecked by love spawns their future plans, a resort called The Lovewreck.
The ship’s captain was beside himself. The crew were sea-sick, faint of heart and weary from days at sea in the storm. The passengers were past hope and had bequeathed their souls to their God of choice.
He watched as despite his best efforts his ship was blown towards certain destruction. The inevitable loss of life that was about to occur ripped his heart apart and he wished with everything he could muster from down deep that he could change events and save those in his care, but it was looking grim. Many a ship had taken its passengers and cargo to a watery grave on this coast and he knew that it was rare for one to escape a storm and shipwreck such as his.
He made his final rounds, imploring his passengers and crew and over the increasing roar of the sea on the rocks to don their lifejackets and prepare for the possibility of survival in the cold waters. None responded. Ill, without hope and immobilised with fear they rejected his advice, so he returned to the wheelhouse distraught and depressed himself.
The man handed him a lifejacket and smiled at him. Tossed to and fro in the swells, he watched as the man’s extended arm passed the lifejacket to his left, then to his right. It was all they could both do to remain standing and the captain wondered why the man cared when all was lost. Surely it would only be minutes now and it would all be over.
The man stepped forward, and caught by the lurching boat, grabbed the Captain by the waist as he was tossed to the side. The man deftly flicked the lifejacket over the Captain’s head and reached around him to tighten the belt.
This man cared enough to give him, the Captain, the chance to survive despite being sure to lose the rest.
The thought crossed his mind that it should have been he, that put the only lifejacket on the man, after all he was the Captain and this was his responsibility, but the lift of a huge swell took his mind away from such matters. His stomach was in his mouth as the ship seemed to float in mid air momentarily, and then came down hard onto the rocks.
The violence of the collision astounded him.
He’d survived a few scrapes in the past, and knew well the horrendous screams of steel scraping on rocks, and the impact of wave driven beating on ships, but nothing had prepared him for this. In the darkness the Captain could just make out the bow of the ship break away and sheer off. Nothing manmade could have survived that power and destruction of his ship was assured.
Screams of the passengers and crew mixed with the horrendous sounds of nature messed with his mind – this was hell. He was sure of it, and there was nothing more he could do.
The next hour or so was a blur of a raging sea, the sounds and silence of people dying around him. He could recall only snippets from the trauma that the shipwreck foist upon his memory. He knew not how he survived, only that he did. His injuries weren’t life threatening but they let him know that he was alive, with pain in all his limbs no doubt from the rocks he was cast upon.
He saw the night through and in the morning found himself on a small sandy beach, bodies and wreckage strewn as far as the eye could see. He looked around and watched as the man who had given him his lifejacket was tending his wounds, wrapping them carefully in rags ripped from the wreckage.
They didn’t speak, for there was too much to say. His questions all felt so trivial in the face of such devastation and the man simply worked away like the good doctor he assuredly was. Why did he put the lifejacket on him – of all people on the ship? Why did no-one else prepare for the inevitable? How did the man survive the shipwreck without a lifejacket if he gave the last one to him? Why did he love so innocently in a situation that arose from the anger and violence of nature?
The questions remained unanswered and together they walked the beach, dragging the bodies to top of the beach to afford them some dignity. Occasionally they would pause to rest, looking out at the sea that was dying down and they’d talk. Small talk to begin with and then into the things that really mattered.
Over the following weeks the man and the Captain carved out a simple life on the coastal beach. They erected some shelter; salvaged what they could from the wreckage and prepared for a future the best that they could.
A long time had passed when the man was there no longer. The Captain missed him in some ways, but in others it just seemed right, almost natural that their relationship had come to a close. The Captain didn’t know where he went or why but it didn’t seem to matter any more . . . he was content.
In time a resort was developed along the coast a little and some of the more adventurous guests would find their way to the Captain’s beach. The word got out and it seemed that there was an intrigue about him and his story. He found himself a little like a monk on a hill, with people coming to him sharing all their life’s troubles and seeking his guidance.
At first he found it a little strange, for he was simply the Captain of a ship who had stayed put after the disaster. But as people respected him and loved him and showed their appreciation for giving them his time, he realised more and more that he could love; he could give and that the people needed it.
He watched as families would arrive and the children would be squabbling and fighting. Yet over the course of the day as they heard more about his shipwreck; his agony of having lost so many and the man who cared for him and loved him and gave him the lifejacket, he would watch as the children would stop the fighting and the family would slow-down; think a little and appreciate their good fortune to be alive.
He fed many from the sea over the years. It was a remote location and the fishing was easy. He’d daily rise early to catch the fish and prepare the meal for his various guests. He never knew how many he would be feeding each day but no matter, the contributions that he received from visitors combined with his own labours always matched their needs.
A beautiful girl came to him one day, alone. She had paddled a long way from the resort by herself and he’d been a long way out on the rocks at the time. She spent a lovely day with the Captain laughing and learning about his life on the sea. She too was a water-baby and she wanted to spend more time with him.
The Captain agreed willingly as he enjoyed her company. A day became days and then weeks as they worked together to love their guests and share their stories. They found themselves falling in love and she wondered why he’d never used her like so many other men had before.
“You truly do love people don’t you?” she asked him one day. “It’s because of the man that put the lifejacket on you in the shipwreck isn’t it? He showed you what real love is, didn’t he?”
The Captain looked over at the girl he had come to love and smiled knowingly.
“You know . . . your love has wrecked me.” she confessed.
“The Lovewreck!” he mused, “Yes, I like that phrase!”
He held her hand a little more firmly and agreed, “I’m lovewrecked too with you!”
They chuckled and started planning their own resort on their little beach, to be called of course, The Lovewreck.