All at sea

Peter
Peter Jackson
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When you're lost for words, it often helps to borrow someone else's.

Amid the inevitable questions about gearboxes and response times, a simple fact remains: last week's helicopter crash was a horrible accident that snatched 17 people away from family and friends.

Such a seemingly senseless event can leave a deep sense of despair in its wake.

No matter how accustomed we are to the regular toll of the North Atlantic, we can't help but feel lost in a sea of uncertainty ourselves every time we are faced with it.

When you're lost for words, it often helps to borrow someone else's.

Amid the inevitable questions about gearboxes and response times, a simple fact remains: last week's helicopter crash was a horrible accident that snatched 17 people away from family and friends.

Such a seemingly senseless event can leave a deep sense of despair in its wake.

No matter how accustomed we are to the regular toll of the North Atlantic, we can't help but feel lost in a sea of uncertainty ourselves every time we are faced with it.

Various religions address the apparent capriciousness of life and death in their own ways.

The Jews, in particular, have a prayer on the Day of Atonement that refers to the Book of Life. In this divine tome, everyone's fate for the coming year is written down and sealed.

Well-known song

Leonard Cohen borrowed from this prayer for his well-known song, "Who By Fire?"

The songwriter even admits his melody is loosely derived from the chant he remembered hearing as a small boy in the synagogue.

Cohen adds his own wry twist to the litany of possibilities, and tacks his own agnostic query to the end of each verse: who is this deity who comes calling for us?

His words, and the liturgy from which they are derived, assure us that all of our fates are similarly preordained as we journey through this vale of tears.

And who by fire, who by water,

who in the sunshine, who in the night time,

who by high ordeal, who by common trial,

who in your merry merry month of may,

who by very slow decay,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,

who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,

and who by avalanche, who by powder,

who for his greed, who for his hunger,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,

who in solitude, who in this mirror,

who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,

who in mortal chains, who in power,

and who shall I say is calling?

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's editorial page editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: North Atlantic

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  • Peter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    To quote some others:

    Matt. 12 : [40] For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Jonas (Jonahs) hometown (Gath Hepher) was only kilometers from Nazereth

    ..For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
    [4] Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
    [5] The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
    [6] I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
    [9] But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD

  • Peter
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    To quote some others:

    Matt. 12 : [40] For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Jonas (Jonahs) hometown (Gath Hepher) was only kilometers from Nazereth

    ..For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
    [4] Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
    [5] The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
    [6] I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
    [9] But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD