Three-Masted Ship

On this stone, to the left, I see a cross in the air, a kind of lamp post, and below it the letter “h”, a figure sitting in a chair. The main scene, of course, is in the centre of the stone, a three-masted ship. The three masts are like brothers-in-arms, the two outer figures supporting the one in the middle, or perhaps it is the middle figure spreading light and strength to those on the outside. “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The ship is like a book that can be opened and closed, a picture book that when you open it, the figures rise up. Sitting on the eastern side of Ithaca, looking across the gulf towards the Greek mainland, I saw a ship like this, a cargo ship that had three masts, sailing across my field of vision.


Meanwhile, in language, the word for “heart” in Greek is actually “belly”, and in the Genesis account of creation the woman is given the name “Eve” because it is related to the Hebrew word (verb!) for “living”: belly + Eve = believe. This line from the Gospel of St John is contained in the word “believe”, as so much of God’s truth is contained in language, if only we have eyes to seek it out. Let us remember the phonetic pair l-r and a jump in the alphabet, b-c; we quickly see that “believe” gives “receive”. Christ says in his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well that whoever drinks this living water will never be thirsty, but will have “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). We see this in the connection between “believe” and “receive”. We also see it in the connection between “source”, the head of the river, and “course”, the main body of the river as it flows towards the sea, the line that meanders like a tramline through a snowy forest. Once we drink of this living water, from the “course”, we become part of the “source”; our life acquires meaning, and we are never thirsty again.

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