Next to the Basin and the Towel

Story of the Day for Monday February 13, 2012

Next to the Basin and the Towel

                    It is not glory to seek out one’s own glory. 

                                              Proverbs 25:27

One early morning in July, 1852, two steamships pulled away from the docks in Albany and headed down the Hudson River to New York City. Because the captain was sick, Thomas Collyer took charge of the Henry Clay.  The Armenia, captained by Isaac Smith, raced past the Henry Clay at the first scheduled stop.

Collyer was furious when he saw the Armenia jump ahead, and so he rushed his ship back in the channel and beefed up the two boilers to 350 pounds per square inch.  The boat boilers made the boat shudder and passengers pleaded with the crew to stop the race, but their pleas were ignored.

At the next docking, the Henry Clay closed the gap.  Soon she nosed up next to the Armenia.  As the Henry Clay slowly inched ahead, the pilot of the Henry Clay rammed his competitor and splintered her bow. The passengers of the Henry Clay were then ordered to one side of the ship so that the boat would rise up to ram above the Armenia’s starboard guard.  The Armenia’s captain cut the engines to keep from running aground.

The Henry Clay now showered her deck with red-hot embers as she raced ahead.  Just past Yonkers, and nearing New York, a stoker, engulfed in flames, staggered up to the deck and dove overboard.  The middle section of the ship was now in flames.

The pilot swung the boat violently toward the east bank – running her 25 feet up the embankment.  The impact toppled a smokestack, and hurled some onto the safety of the shore.  Some were pitched into the waters, while others – trapped by the flames – were forced to jump overboard.  Within twenty minutes the boat had burned down to water level.

Throughout the afternoon and into the night they dredged the river for bodies.  Eighty people perished.


The purpose of the steamships was to provide safe travel for the passengers traveling from Albany to New York.  But objectives are easily forgotten when we are overcome by the desire to outdo someone else.  We blow out our boilers to maintain our status.


Jesus doesn’t object to competition – it’s just that we’re competing for the wrong thing.  The pride of seeking our own glory is an empty quest.  Our Lord humbly kneeled to serve us; to save us.

He wants us to know the “highest” place we can be is on the floor next to the basin and the towel.

(copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)