Rich sailed from the entrance of the Hokianga River pinched by two huge bluffs of sand. His heart and mind felt good and satisfied. The sea opened before him like the beginning of a new day—which it happened to be. “There can be nothing better than doing good.”
The winds, gentle and persistent, pushed The Odyssey and Rich tirelessly for three hours. Never looking back or giving thought to anything but the sea, they pressed on. A smile came to Rich’s face as the sun warmed his back.
Paradise rested somewhere beyond the back of his shoulders. Rich turned to see if it might follow. “It will be in my mind forever. I shall recall every breeze, every palm in that breeze, every raindrop and every flower it nourished, and every ray of sun and every smile it gleamed upon—every vivid detail. The sweet smell of flowers and the twitter of vibrant tropical birds will fill my head at my beckoning. They are mine now; no one can remove them from me.”
Rich turned in the cockpit to face aft. New Zealand, now long gone and rested only as a brief memorable expanse in time. “From here on I can only smile when I hear of New Zealand and the islands and atolls to the north of her. One thing is certain, my life would be in vain if not for the experiences had in the Southseas. Jean, Tim, Tura, and most of all, Ramona will always be a satisfying summit in my life. Their existence was pure. I came here one man and left another.”
Rich turned forward and looked over the bow toward Australia. “I’m in fear of that place just over there. Dear God, please don’t let it change me into something you would disapprove. I know I’m not fully good enough to be called yours. If I revert make a way out for me. I’m unsure and experienced only in the surface of life. Don’t let me sink or wander about aimlessly.”
Rich climbed below and sat the chart desk. He calculated the distance to Sydney. “1250 miles, 10 days with good weather. I wonder if Dennis is still there? We have much to catch up on. Maybe he could fill me in on events back in Maine—or not.”
“Perhaps the manuscripts I gave him will all be edited,” Rich thought. “I have a ton more to give him.”
“I haven’t given much thought about the future—beyond this, when I get back to the states. I have to start earning a real living. I’m not comfortable with leadership.” Rich smiled and said with an Irish brogue, “So, ‘tis a job without opportunity for advancement I’ll be a lookin’.”
“Truth is, I’m scared.” Rich’s face turned sour. A foreboding like that of a frightful storm churned deep in his body—from where he did not know, but he became uneasy and morose. “I’m as unsure and afraid as I’ve ever been. Things, events, and challenges kept me from tending to the darkness that lies in myself—an empty pit of despair and self-loathing. If this deep should swallow me now it might be a favor, for now, I am empty. There is only a small amount of real good in us all and even less in me. Could it have all been used by now? I have done all the good that is in me. It has been exhausted, for in me there lies little capacity for good.”
Rich leaned back in his chair. A piece of paper wedged between two books on the shelf over the desk caught his eye. He pulled it out. It was folded. On the outside, it read “To Rich.” He opened it and smiled.
Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.
The Odyssey sailed on, westward as if a galloping steed.