I’ve been thinking a lot about Bernie Webber having to “cross the bar” (from my last post), which reminds me of the Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem my dad used to quote, “Crossing the Bar,” which is believed to be Tennyson’s last poem. I never appreciated how treacherous it might be to attempt crossing the bar, and yet—for many people—crossing the bar from this life to the next is as frightening as crossing the bar of Cape Cod was to Bernie Webber. “Crossing the bar” here on earth refers to sailors who have to get across the treacherous, shifting shoals of a sandbar in order to make it out to sea. It’s always dangerous, and in some cases it’s really only possible at high tide when the sailors have carefully timed it so their craft is buoyed up by riding across on a big wave. In the spiritual realm, “crossing the bar” refers to getting across the last stretch of life as we know it on earth before we put out to “sea” in the ocean of eternity, leaving our physical life behind and going forward into the next. In my imagination, I think of the Word of God, as “the water of life” that can make it easier for us to get across the bar. Wisdom from obeying the counsel and guidance of the Bible can buoy us up like a high tide, and we can sail across without being shipwrecked if by faith we ride the waves of God’s blessed promises.
“Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
“But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
“Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
“For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
(All photos were taken while watching the gripping movie, The Finest Hours, which I reviewed last Monday, August 15.)