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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Endurance (03/22/04)

TITLE: The Covering
By Kathy Pollock


Once upon a time, a small boat left the safety of the harbor for a long trip across the ocean. He had heard of a special place where there were no storms, no sudden squalls, and even no barnacles to cluster under his belly. Before he left, he took the advice of a seasoned, battered old ship, who, despite his imperfections, seemed to glow with beauty and who had weathered many storms.

“Apply this special coating,” advised the old ship. “You will still encounter fierce weather and times when there is no wind to push behind your sails, but you will be protected and will reach the other side. The trip that you have planned is a long one, and although I have come close to the destination several times, I have never been there. Someday, I too will make the trip, but for now, I have other work to do.”

So the boat immersed himself in the coating and felt remorse that he had spent so many days zipping around the harbor with no thought for his safety or what might have been protecting him even without the covering.

Confident now that he would make the trip and arrive at his wonderful destination, he carefully checked to make sure his coating was evenly applied, his sails had no tears, and his ropes were strong and seaworthy. Having completed his pre-sailing checks, he slowly left the harbor. Feelings of adventure mingled with sadness over leaving his past behind, and some fears of what he might encounter.

“Well,” he reasoned, “the protective coating has served the old ship well. Surely it will keep me also.”

For many miles, the sea was smooth and calm. The little boat basked in the warm sunshine, enjoying the lapping of the waves, the screeching gulls overhead, and the playful dolphins that leapt beside him. But one day, the skies changed. Clouds pushed by strong winds raced across the sky, obliterating the sun and bringing a sudden chill. Those same winds began to push the little boat faster than he had ever gone before, and soon he was rising and falling quickly on huge swells of water, with little time to rest between each wave. Fear arose quickly within him, and he began to panic, until he remembered the words of the old ship.

“My covering will get me there,” he thought, and the training he had received from other, wiser ships returned to him. Before long, the seas calmed and a peaceful night was heralded by the pinpoints of twinkling lights above him.

“Well, I made it through that one,” he thought. “I’m pretty strong for a small boat.” Instantly, he heard in his mind the words of the old ship and remembered that it was his covering that had brought him safety, not his own skill.

As the days stretched into weeks, the little boat saw many things he had never seen before. There were other storms, and once there was a time, which he had heard spoken of as the doldrums, when he didn’t move at all. Even the slightest breeze refused to blow, and the little boat quickly tired of staying in the same place. He checked his coating though, and it was still there, so he trusted that one day, the breezes would come again. And they did, making him glad even for a storm if it just kept him moving closer to his destination.

Months had passed now. The little boat didn’t look much like the craft that left the harbor. His new sails were not so bright, and his neatly painted trim was beginning to peel. Amazingly, though, despite these flaws, his covering seemed to have grown thicker. The little boat gleamed despite his scars.

One day, he spotted the shore of the land he was pursuing. It seemed so bright, so safe, so inviting. As he slowed to come ashore, silvery fish flashed in the shallow water. Birds of colors he had never seen before swooped and dived around him. As he came to a stop on the sparkling, sandy beach, he heard a voice.

“Come, meet your Covering. Well done, little boat.”

Member Comments
Member Date
Lynne Cox03/29/04
Wow, beautifully written parable! I'm tempted to vote for you right now, but yours is the first one I read so I better wait.
Dave Wagner03/29/04
A question...if the analogy is that of the Christian walk, then the small ship is a picture of a Christian that dies young, I take it? The older ship that hasn't "died" yet is the picture of endurance, the real subject of the piece, then?

The style is good. I would not have so obviously labeled the doldrums as such...it would be a more true-to-form analogy if that was left up to the reader to discern, I think.

Good work.
Dori Knight03/30/04
very creative and written well, this story reads like a good children's book would. in fact, i may share it with them at bedtime! thanks for this!
Dian Moore03/31/04
I wish I had a small child to tell this story to. You certainly have a way with words. Good job!
Donna Anderson04/01/04
I'd love to see this illustrated! Very nice piece. :)
Kenny Paul Clarkson04/02/04
Would makea nice children's book
Mary Elder-Criss04/03/04
Do you promise me an autographed copy when it's published? Great job, sis. I really enjoyed this piece. Get Chad's artistic fingers working.
Kathy Pollock04/03/04
Mary, i would but he keeps insisting you draw better boats!
Nita Frazier04/03/04
Absolutely wonderful.Excellent little allegory. Children will lvoe this.