We just returned from 11 lovely days on an Alaskan cruise. If there is ever a place on earth where God chose to show off His imagination, creativity and awesome handiwork, it is Alaska!
We set sail (so to speak) from San Francisco rather than one of the more common ports of Seattle or Port Angeles, Washington, or Canada, which meant a lot more ship time. As the days passed, I realized that a cruise ship is a microcosm of the world at large…lots of people with their own hopes and dreams and agendas. People getting upset because they couldn’t smoke where they wanted; their food wasn’t prepared to their specifications (the waiters are friendly internationals, but with imperfect English); long lines getting off the ship at ports (lots of place holding in line, not always appreciated!), and the discomfort of sitting with strangers during shared meals (a common trait of cruise dining).
And, like the world, there were lots of opportunities to practice Jesus’ promotion of the Second Greatest Commandment (following loving God with everything we’ve got), to love others as we love ourselves. In such close quarters, especially in the dining rooms, cruisers are forced to get to know one another even when they don’t particularly want to…with surprising results. Strangers sometimes turn out to be neighbors from the same neck of the earthly woods, and often even become friends.
I found this to be especially true of the “crafting group” that met onboard ship. Each day at 2 pm, women circled ‘round one of the lounge grand pianos, their laps full of quilting, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitch, needlepoint, and any other type of handcraft you can imagine. What a lovely, cross-cultural group!
After each port, this group enjoyed showing off any new finds (there are some wonderful yarn shops in the Inland Passage!), and helping each other with projects. One Chinese woman had purchased a counted cross-stitch kit (of Snow White) before leaving home, only to find when she opened it up onboard that the directions were written in French! Thankfully, there was an Italian woman in the group who could read French, and interpreted the instructions. Along with a couple of Brits, there were two women, from Northern and Southern Ireland, who readily set aside any lingering grudges and became fast friends. A Latin American woman showed off her expertise at around-the-neck knitting. A Japanese woman joined the group mid-cruise and deliberately befriended the Chinese woman. Another woman, Korean I think, spoke very little English yet she fit in beautifully. We even had a well known knit fashion designer among us, who set aside quite a chunk of her time to teach me the Continental method of knitting.
Are you thinking what I thought? If only the world could get along as well as this little group of strangers-turned-friends! I’ve heard it said that music is an international language. I’d like to add handcrafting to that idiom…just don’t ask us crafters to share our stash!