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Every life is a unique and unrepeatable story.  In Soul Voyage we attempt through words and music to examine the patterns of our lives by reflecting on the voyage of Sir Ernest Shackelton and the crew of The Endurance on their ill-fated Antarctic sojourn.  In their story we recognize our own desires, the pain of shattered dreams, and on the horizon always the hope of new life, of resurrection. Below are the lyrics of Fr. Tom’s songs used in this CD, and study questions designed to help you explore your own soul voyage.

Leaving Harbor

On this day, we head out of the harbor;
Make our way into the trackless sea.
Some will say we’ve set our sights on folly.
Come what may, our hopes are running free.

Down the years, we’ve dreamed of finding glory.
Time has steered our fortunes to this day.
Ringing clear, the bell of bold horizons
Casts out fear, and sets us on our way.

       How she runs upon the wind,
            How she runs upon the sea!
           Lift the sails, and forge across the water;
            Win or fail, we find our destiny.

Every eye is gazing ever outward.
Live or die, we’ll take the quest that comes.
You and I were born for this adventure.
Spirits fly; we strain ahead as one.


Reflection Questions for
Farewell to Wild Antarctica
  • Do you remember your first big disillusionment in life? A time when you first realized things weren't going to work out as you planned?
  • Did you have dreams that were taken away because of someone's cruelty or selfishness?
  • Or perhaps you had dreams that you sacrificed for the love of another. Perhaps you sacrificed a career to raise children, or took a job you hated in order to provide for your family.
  • When you realized your first dream was unattainable, were you able to let it go, or do you still cling to it and wonder "What if..."?
  • When your dreams are dashed are you, like Shackleton, able to fix your gaze on another dream, another goal?
  • Is that goal even better than the one before, perhaps less self-centered?
  • No matter what door we close, or is closed for us, Christ always opens another. Do you see what door Christ is opening for you?

Small Vessels

Small vessels on the rolling sea,
Rough water washing over me,
Time marches to infinity,
And still we sail.

No respite for the aching hands,
No shelter for the desperate man,
No sighting of a piece of land,
And still this gale.

Somewhere the shore,
So far away...

Climb mountains made of crested wave,
Then plunging toward a foamy grave,
No chance of being seen or saved,
Just keep on going.

Ice frozen on the fragile spar,
Deep night without the moon and star,
Storm-driven yet we’ve come this far,
The sky keeps snowing.

Somewhere a home,
So far away...

No vision in the rain and sleet,
No comfort and no hope of sleep,
No solace as we cross the deep,
No sun comes shining.

Mast bending and our clothes are torn,
Wood groaning as the wild waves form,
All battered by the brutal storm,
No stars come shining.

Cling to the mast,
For one more day...

Reflection Questions for Take the Banjo
  • Life without laughter is barely worth living! What brings joy, laughter, and lightness of being into your life?
  • Even during dark times we usually experience some ray of hope. This always comes as a gift, but it often requires we make right choices as well. The gift of music to the crew of the Endurance was there because they chose to take the banjo. What choices do you make that give you life?
  • Do you sometimes sacrifice these things thinking them selfish? (as opposed to self-full) St Charles Borremeo told the priests under his care to take care of their flocks, but not to neglect taking care of themselves as well, for they could not give what they did not have!
  • Sometimes we simply try to escape the pain of life rather than creatively alleviate it. Do you have "false banjos" (for example, alcohol, television) that deaden the pain, but do little to really lift your spirits?

    Every Mile Impossible

    We cast our lot two long years ago--
    Took our chance to brave the ice and snow.
    But time goes spinning down the days,
    Now our fate has cast us on these waves.

    We are not lost, but we are bent so low;
    Every mile impossible
    And hundreds more to go.

    Hills of water in fury crashing down;
    How we long for sure and solid ground.
    Can we ride, with tiller and with sail,
    The wild horses of this gale?

    Parching thirst racks our ragged tongues;
    Endless sea, with no sign of the sun.
    Mighty squalls, rage against this boat;
    Oh how thin the twisting thread of hope.

    Reflection Questions for The Albatross
    • Are you familiar with Footprints in the Sand? The gist of it is that the times when we feel most abandoned by God are usually those when God is most at work in our lives. Can you look back at difficult times in your life and see God's presence in them, even though you did not know it at the time?
    • Perhaps God came in a guise you did not recognize?
    • The albatross was a gift "out of the blue" for the small crew. It did nothing to rescue them, but its presence made all the difference. Have you ever been the "albatross" (Christ's presence) in someone else's life? Perhaps even though you felt you were doing no good your presence was making all the difference.
    • "Consolation without antecedent cause" (Ignatius) is a sign of God's presence in our lives: the assurance that though we may feel lonely, we are never alone. What do these words of Christ mean to you personally: "Behold I am with you always, even to the end of time."?

    They Came Walking

    High among the mountains
    On a ridge without a name,
    Three lost, unlikely climbers came--

    Sailors with no vessel,
    Cresting waves of stone;
    Far from all they knew, they walked alone.

    And the moon watched their passing,
    Far into the night;
    Upon their tired footsteps,
    She cast her silver light.

    As if walking through a dream
    Far above their scope,
    Weary beyond measure
    Still they hoped.

    The mountains took pity,
    They let the travelers pass,
    Down the granite columns
    To their journey’s end at last.

    Down the ice of ages,
    Down the lonely sea,
    Down the towering mountains
    They came walking.

    Reflection Questions for Small Boat, Long Voyage
    • Every life is a story with meaning and destiny. Look back on your own life. Can you see glimmers of the why of your life? It's there!
    • John of the Cross describes the spiritual life as "an ever deepening penetration into an ever receeding depth." That is, the journey never ends. If we feel like "we've finally arrived" in the spiritual life, we're likely doing something wrong! Are you at home with being a pilgrim, a traveller whose destiny is always up ahead?
    • Gratefulness forms the base for prayer, and is key to our spiritual growth. When we are grateful we take possession of the gifts God has given us for our good. Are you grateful for the beauty and the pain of your life?
    • God does not cause bad things to happen in order that good may come of them, but God can bring good out of anything. And so we can even give thanks for the hard times. Do you see how God has used even the hard times of your life to bring you closer to Him?

    Reflection Questions for Leaving Harbor

    • What stories have influenced your own life?
    • Do you remember your excitement when first starting a new venture (eg: college, marriage, a new job)?
    • Can you see how that "bravado" was helpful?
    • St. Ignatius says in times of desolation remember consolation. Can you remember and give thanks for the times when things went well; when you sailed "upon the wind"?
    • The last stanza in Leaving Harbor begins "Every eye is gazing ever outward." That is how we see the world when we first begin our "quest," but the pains of life sometimes cause us to be shortsighted, and all we see is difficulty. How can we refocus our eyes on Christ and regain our outward gaze?

    Farewell to Wild Antarctica

    Farewell to wild Antarctica
    Where I’ll not venture forth;
    Our sailing-ship a prison now,
    Drifting toward the north.

    The mighty months of planning,
    The fire in my veins--
    It’s all a dying ember now,
    And only this remains:

    To find our way to harbor,
    To save courageous lives;
    To bring them back to safety,
    To children, friends and wives.  (And I’d trade...)

    All fame for one life;
    All achievement for one life;
    All honor for one life;
    All the world for one life.

    I leave my dream behind me now,
    I cast it to the wind,
    My mind and heart ahead of me
    To draw us home again.

    What strength and courage I possess
    I pledge for all I’m worth--
    God grant me bold endurance,
    God speed us toward the north:

    To find our way to harbor,
    To save courageous lives;
    To bring them back to safety,
    To children, friends and wives. 

    All fame for one life;
    All achievement for one life;
    All honor for one life;
    All the world for one life.

    Reflection Questions for Small Vessels
    • At some point in our lives almost all of us suffer a time of deep anxiety, a time when we feel small and alone, a time when we feel like a small boat in the middle of a merciless sea. What got you through that time?
    • Perhaps you feel that way now. Can you remember having felt this way before ? Did you survive? Were you rescued? Did you find land? How?
    • Shackleton and his men did all they could to find land. What can you do to rescue yourself?
    • Although you might feel like a victim (indeed perhaps you have been victimized by life) how can you escape "victim mentality" and take an active role in fashioning your own destiny?

    Take the Banjo

    Leave the tables, leave the chairs
    Leave the fancy books
    But take the banjo, take the banjo!
    Leave the chessboard, leave your clothes,
    Leave your handsome looks,
    But take the banjo…

    Leave the test tubes, leave the scales,
    Leave the forks and knives,
    But take the banjo…
    Leave the teacups, leave the plates,
    The pictures of your wives,
    But take the banjo…

    It’s vital mental tonic,
    five-string therapy;
    There’s no debating on it—
    We’ll haul it o’er the sea.

    Leave the pillows, leave the beds,
    Leave your cabin keys,
    But take the banjo…

    Take your photos, take the food,
    Take your memories,
    And take that banjo!

    Reflection Questions for Every Mile Impossible
    • St. John of the Cross is probably best known for his descriptions of the Dark Nights we all go through in life: times when we might feel utterly abandoned, like Christ on the cross. Have you experienced what felt like a Dark Night?
    • These are times when we feel like giving up. God has abandoned us, so let's abandon God! If we make this choice, what does this say about our faith?
    • Many people have gone through dark nights and come out on the other side. Do you know any of these people? Have you sought out their counsel?
    • A soul-friend is invaluable during these times. Sometimes this is a trained spiritual director, but often it is just a good friend willing to accompany you through difficult times. Are you humble and open enough to ask for help?
    • Or do you feel no one will ever understand what you are going through?

    The Albatross

    In day of darkest cloud,
    The boat so fiercely tossed,
    There came to fly above them
    A single albatross.

    His wings were wide and confident,
    He sailed so beautifully--
    Through the howling, pitching gale
    Above the boiling sea.

    He mastered every current
    With an arc that held no flaw.
    He danced before the cavern
    Of death’s black, hungry maw.

    His reckless grace amazed them;
    They cheered the albatross.
    He dove and sailed before them,
    His back and wings a cross.

    A flash of white against the black,
    The storm on every side.
    He soared into the distance;
    Their spirits lifted high.

    Reflection Questions for They Came Walking
    • Although near death, and their closest to utter failure, when you read about these three men's trek across the mountains you are filled with the awe and the beauty they sensed. They roared with laughter when, in a desperate act, they slid down the snow on a mountainside. It was as if they knew they had done their best, and now it was up to a power greater than theirs. Have you, too, experienced a time when you had to "let go, and let God"?
    • Often in our spiritual life all we can to do is put one foot in front of the other. Success is not up to us. We are asked only not to give up: to endure. Are you willing to go the distance even when there seems to be no progress, and less hope of success?
    • Have you spent a lot of time and effort trying to "fix" someone (or yourself)? Is it possible that you are being asked to leave the "fixing" to God, and to simply be an enduring presence of God's love in someone's life? To simply walk alongside them, as God is walking alongside you?

    Small Boat, Long Voyage

    We take a voyage for a lifetime,
    We seek and strive until we die;
    We scan horizon o’er horizon,
    One eye on land, and one on sky.

    We travel light—we plan for distance;
    Take what we need and leave the rest.
    We are not new to the adventure,
    We are familiar with the test.

    Small boat, long voyage,
    Many wonders on the way;
    Brave Lord of sea-tossed sailors,
    Give us courage for today.

    We know how force of wind can batter,
    We know the strain of weeks at sea;
    We know the nights of lonely watching,
    We will not shrink from what we see.

    Out on the ocean in the morning,
    The jewel of dawn shines golden-blue,
    We raise the sail to catch the day-wind,
    And sing our early lauds to You.

    There is a rhythm that is racing
    Beside the dolphin in the swells.
    There is a story we are part of,
    That everything around us tells.

    There is a depth we cannot fathom,
    There is a height we cannot see;
    There is a beauty that amazes,
    There is a time when we’ll be free.

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