Image Courtesy the the john F. Kennedy Presidential LibraryMy workdesk has very couple of personal item on it. Yet for years there sat a plaque which read: “Oh God, her sea is so an excellent and my watercraft is so small.”

Its verse is native the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer, a city by Winfred Ernest Garrison — and and the plaque is a replica of one that sat on the workdesk of President man F. Kennedy. It to be presented to him — and also every new submarine captain — through Admiral Hyman Rickover.

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I wouldn’t define myself as specifically religious, nor Celtic, nor a seaman. This prayer should typical nothing to me, yet I have actually been unable to extract that from my life. In fact, i have turned come it in many times of battle over the years.

Initially, i came throughout this prayer in a West wing episode, title “Faith-Based Initiatives.” The plot heat of the illustration is not so necessary — what is crucial is what that tv show brought into mine life, and also how I have grown native it.

For nearly a decade, as I propelled myself through final exams in undergraduate and also law school, I would watch The West soup from Season 1, illustration 1 every the way through the end. It was my method to unwind after advertise myself mentally and emotionally to succeed in my food work. It listed a comfortable regime to return to and frankly maintained me stable in numerous ways. While simply a television show, that became an important part of mine Washington, DC narrative — the idealism that the characters, the smart and snappy dialogue, and the belief that no matter your background, you deserve to have an impact. In an overwhelming and frightening political times, the show became a defense blanket. And also every once in a while, it really taught me something.

For me, that course, over there is a deeper connection to this plaque than it’s presence in a couple of frames of a television present I adore. We live in a human being in which the is quite basic to end up being removed, self-centered, and also to forget that us are yet one being in a vast, diverse and ever-changing universe. Alone, we are captains of our own small boats, drifting in a big ocean. In make the efforts times, it can all it seems ~ overwhelming. And also this is as soon as our perspective — our worldview — is many important.

The sea, as discussed on the plaque and also in the prayer, is our civilization — it is as huge as we treatment to see it. We can look out and just view the horizon, and also believe that is wherein the world ends. After ~ all, if us cannot see past it, climate why recognize what might be the end there? yet there is so much more to see, learn, and also acknowledge — our boat is only one small part of the large sea.

So what go it every mean?

Of food our watercraft will rock.

Of food a wave will come.

In fact, us may get thrown overboard. We may get soaked come the bone. We might cry the end in agony, and tire while swimming for shore.

But if we pick to watch the people as a substantial ocean, and not our small pond, then we can see that we space small, and the sea is good — and every storm is just a dark cloud as soon as viewed indigenous 50,000 ft.

Here is the city in that entirety:

Thy sea, O God, for this reason great,My boat so small.It can not be that any type of happy fateWill me befallSave as Thy goodness opens paths because that meThrough the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, therefore strong,So slight mine sail.How could I curb and bit lock on the longAnd saltry trail,Unless thy love were mightier 보다 the wrathOf all the tempests the beset mine path?

Thy world, O God, for this reason fierce,And ns so frail.Yet, though its arrows threaten oft come pierceMy vulnerable mail,Cities of refuge climb where threats cease,Sweet silences abound, and also all is peace.

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- Winfred Ernest Garrison

Thanks to Rishon Roberts and also Daniel Chayes because that their help in modifying this piece.