Sail, Swim, Submerge, Smile, Celebrate
The simple plan was to pack an introductory diving course into our weeklong bareboat charter in Antigua and Barbuda. It turned out to be way more than that.
Pastor Moses not only preached. He taught Sunday school, and he gave thanks for the ceiling fans that had only just been installed the night before. "Man, it's pretty hot with the fans!" I whispered to Caroline, with sweat dripping into my eye. "How long do you think they'd gone without them?" Not two seconds later, Pastor Moses was beaming and looking at us.
"Remember that wedding I've talked about?" he said to the congregation in his booming and yet soothing voice. "I'm so happy to see Bill and Caroline here. Come up to the front!" he said waving and smiling.
Now, we're not really churchgoers, so this took us a bit by surprise. But I've seen The Blues Brothers, and I do remember good things happening when Jake and Elwood had their fateful moment with the Reverend Cleophus James up on the altar at the Triple Rock Baptist Church on the South Side of Chicago. So we held hands and walked up to the front of this tiny little Caribbean church and stood in front of about 30 smiling faces.
"We are so happy you're here, and we want to welcome you," he said.
And then one of the ladies in the front row got up and set about engulfing us in the biggest, warmest, most sincere hugs you'll ever see.
"Welcome and God bless you," she said in a wonderful Caribbean lilt. "We're glad that you are here."
"Thank you so much," I said. "We're so grateful to be here." There really wasn't anything more to say. The love was bouncing off the walls of the tiny church with the brand-new ceiling fans. All we did was try to return the hugs of all of the members of Pastor Moses' congregation with as much love, warmth, and sincerity as they showered on us.
It's not too often that yuppie charterers from cold, damp, and dark Boston get transported to great depths-OK, 30-foot depths-and great spiritual heights while cruising crossroads from the past and visiting isolated, silky-soft, pink-sand beaches, but it sure happened to us that week.
And I'm so grateful that it did.
Bill Springer, CW's senior editor and director of the Boat of the Year program, now realizes that there was a reason he spent part of his wayward youth in the Leeward Islands.