Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Batten Down the Hatches....

Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war. - Aristophanes

"Batten down the hatches..."
Prepare for trouble.
Climate change is providing plenty of opportunity to reinforce our property against bad weather. The securing of property, especially the covering with protective sheeting, is called 'battening down'. That's not how the phrase originated, although it's not far away in terms of meaning. It has a nautical origin and 'battening down' was done on ships when bad weather was expected.
The earliest known citation is from John Badcock, in Domestic Amusements, 1823 (referring to a sea voyage):
"The severity of the climate having compelled them to batten down and caulk their abiding place."
A batten is a strip of wood. Caulking is the filling of gaps with oakum of similar, to prevent leaking. That's 'battening down' in a general sense. The first citation of the explicit use of the phrase 'batten down the hatches' is from the 1883 Chambers Journal.
For the life of me, I can't stop thinking about ships. I don't even know that much about ships, or sailing, or plank walking, and other such nautical delights. But I do know God...and He has been showing me some awesome stuff. I keep envisioning myself on a wooden ship...I'm at the helm (that sea folk talk for the steering mechanism)...out before me is a big wide blue ocean and at the horizon there are beautiful oranges, reds, purples, and yellows. The warm, salty breeze is blowing through my hair and I feel confident and blissful. I've thought a lot about what it means to be a ship. Instead of taking this analogy in the direction of....I need a trusty "crew" to keep my ship going...I feel like God is telling me that instead of thinking about adding "people" to my ship...what I need..is a fleet.

Each fleet is made up of individual, self-maintained vessels. We travel together and help each other along our voyage, but overall...we run our own ships. We have our own "crew", but not of people...I don't really even know how to represent that with words, but it's kinda like our bodies...we don't have other people inside our bodies working to keep us alive...we are self-maintained vessels with blood cells and such as our "crew". I think that sometimes we think that we need people aboard our ships in order to keep going, but really, all that shipless people do is weigh us down...basically, they need to get their ship together...lol.

Each individual ship is made up of different materials and has different shapes and sails. They also all have their own "job" or "purpose" within the fleet.

The less cargo or baggage that each ship carries, the faster the ship will move forward. When you leave a ship docked in shallow waters, they tend to get barnacles. We have all heard of barnacles before, but take a look at this definition:

Barnacles are encrusters, attaching themselves permanently to a hard substrate. Barnacles are exclusively marine, and tend to live in shallow and tidal waters, typically in erosive settings.

Do you know of any encrusters in your life? Have you spent too much time in an erosive setting and now you have some clingers on? Those pesky little encrusters attach themselves to an already established vessel and don't let go until you scrape them off. A ship that is moving forward into deeper seas doesn't get barnacles. Hmmm...makes ya think doesn't it!? We've all had our fair share of hard to remove crustaceans. The more barnacles, cargo, baggage, and shipless seafarers you take on to your vessel..the slower you will be able to move forward.

You know what else keeps us from moving forward? Those dag-on anchors. Why does such a small ship need so many anchors!? One anchor would probably suffice, but for some reason I have weighed my little vessel down with multiple anchors. I feel like I have gotten rid of so many things that kept me from moving forward in my life...but this last one...phew!..it was a doosey! It's funny...when I was envisioning myself lifting my last oppressive anchor...I had this thought come across my mind. I was like...Wait a minute....why am a bringing this anchor on board my ship!? Hell to the No! I'm not just gonna raise this anchor off the sea floor, where it's been draggin' for years....I'm gonna cut it loose from my ship completely so that it never stops me from moving forward again!!!! I really wish you all could see this visual I have of myself taking and ax and chopping those huge metal chains. I have this huge smile on my face, a crazed look in my eye, and a look of pride, confidence, and utter defiance on my face. It took me way too long to cut this one loose and I'll be a monkey's uncle if I ever let it stop me again. (I kinda feel like Scarlet O'Hara when everything around her is crazy and she vows to never go hungry again...weird...i know.)

Does it sound scary to be a ship without any anchors!? Um, yeah...totally. But here's the deal...God doesn't want us to dock somewhere and grow barnacles and pick up hangers on. We may the captain of our own ships, and have free will to head wherever we want...but we are to be always moving...never stopping...always heading toward the course we've chosen...never giving up on our hot pursuit of God. The ocean of life is vast and wide with many obstacles and dangers. We are always at risk of wrecking and sinking, but if you choose God as your compass and your map...you will always be steering in the right direction. (I just started singing that Carrie Underwood song "Jesus take the wheel" in my head...love that song.)

We need a freakin' armada in order to keep ourselves on the right course. If one ship starts to turn around and go back...the other ships are there to either block their way or gently guide them back on course. Our little ships have been through so much. We have been tempest tossed and almost capsized, we have been threatened by pirates trying to steal the treasures we have stowed away in the deepest chambers of our ship, we have taken on crew members when we already had a full ship, we have had to do some barnacle removing that would impress even the most seasoned of mean old lady Russian bikini waxers, BUT we are not alone. We are leading the way...but if we look over the stern...we will see our fleet.


This is your Captain speaking....Katie

But holding on to you means letting go of pain Means letting go of tears Means letting go of the rain Holding on to you Means letting sorrows heal Means letting go of what's not real Holding on to you Holding On To You - Terrence Trent D'Arby


  1. Katie! That was a good one! You go girl!...and it totally makes sense! We hold on to crap ( Barnacles) because it's familiar to us and yes we do this because we are scared to face the possiblities ahead of us...However, it's liberating to know that it's those same possiblities that will carry us towards happier and happier days. Why? Because, I'll be a Monkey's Uncle :) if I allow one more Barnacle hold me back from living this precious Life!!! Keep writing!!! :)

  2. Kate, I love your analogy. We have been with you every step of the way. We are your people. If you don't need a crew, we are the rubber boats gently bumping you back on course. Love ya!


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