The Spirit presents opportunities for growth in character. It is crucial not to miss them.
During the troubled years of the Second World War the Italian forces were driven out of Eritrea in North Africa. In an effort to make the harbor unusable to the Allies, the Italians filled great barges with concrete, and then sank them across the entrance to the harbor. When the Allies entered, their problem was to remove the barges to make use of the harbor.
They did this in a very ingenious way. They sealed great empty gas tanks of the sort oil refineries use in storing fuel, and then they floated them in the sea above the sunken barges. When the tide was out, they chained the floating tanks to the barges. When the tide came in, the tanks exerted their tremendous buoyancy to tug the barges free from the bay’s sucking sand. It was then relatively easy to clear the harbor for Allied shipping.
Think of the power in that! The barges were chained to the tanks. The tanks were dependent upon the tides. The tides were pulled by the gravitational attraction of the moon, and the moon was moving in accord with the whole cosmos. The tides exercise tremendous, unimaginable, dynamic power.
Shakespeare emphasizes this in the fourth act of Julius Caesar. Brutus, trying to enlist Cassius in his aid, refers to the power of the tides, and then adds another serious consideration concerning them:
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.
Shakespeare is saying that the tides not only have great power, but that they also cannot be stopped or retrieved. ...1
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