Tag Archives: ships

Lit Up in Fairy Lamps

Story of the Day for Thursday July 21, 2011


Lit Up in Fairy Lamps


                    In those days, as the number of disciples increased, the Greeks complained to the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 

                                                                Acts 6:1

 Great Britain, as part of her coronation celebration for King George VI, staged a review of the royal fleet. On May 20, 1937, the Spithead Review was immortalized by a BBC radio announcer, retired Lieutenant Commander, Thomas Woodrooffe.

But, the radio pre-transmission test sounded troublesome, and the broadcast director was alerted that all might not go well with the broadcast. The Commander’s celebration before the broadcast was, to put it mildly, enthusiastic. Woodrooffe did not disappoint those at the radio station who feared a coming disaster.


“At the present moment,” the Commander began, “the whole fleet is lit up. When I say ‘lit up’ I mean lit up by fairy lamps. . . The whole thing is lit up by fairy lamps. It’s fantastic! It isn’t a fleet at all – it’s just fairy land. The whole thing is in fairy land!”

Woodrooffe was beginning to warm to his theme.

“And when I say a fleet is ‘lit up in lamps’ I mean she’s outlined. The whole ship’s outlined. . .In little lamps.”

The Commander would pause, sometimes for over ten seconds – which, on the radio, is an eternity. After a prolonged silence he proudly announced, “I’m sorry, I was telling people to shut up talking.”

Woodrooffe knew he had grasped the nub of the issue and was not about to let it go.

“What I mean is this: the whole fleet is lit up. In fairy lamps. And each ship is outlined. . . the ships are all lit up. They’re outlined – the whole lot. . . But at this moment there’s a whole huge fleet here. . . this colossal fleet. Lit up. By lights. And the whole scene’s in fairy land. . .”


“The Woodrooffe Incident,” as it came to be called, alerted the BBC that they had no procedures in place to interrupt a live broadcast. (A studio engineer finally cut the Commander off the air, even though he had no authority to do so.) But the BBC learned from its mistake and installed an announcer on duty to intervene should another live broadcast dissolve into calamity.


The early church made mistakes. As Christians multiplied in Jerusalem, the church didn’t fairly distribute food to the poor.  The Greek-speaking widows, who didn’t speak the native language, were neglected.

But when they realized their mistake, the church corrected the problem. Seven men were chosen to see that food was distributed fairly to everyone. And, in a touching gesture, all seven of those responsible for feeding the poor had Greek names.


Don’t worry about making mistakes – you’re not going to avoid them. The only thing you need to worry about is failing to learn, and grow, from them.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre

Even A Bug Can Teach

Story of the Day for Thursday June 2, 2011

Even A Bug Can Teach


                 When pride comes, disgrace with follow. With humility comes wisdom.

                                                                      Proverbs 11:2



The 19th century was the golden age of British conquest. The sun never set on the British Empire, and the cultured English bathed in their glory.

Having conquered and colonized vast uncivilized cultures of the world, in the spring of 1845, they set out to conquer Nature.

Sir John Franklin led the best-funded expedition in history to find the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. Two 350-ton vessels were equipped with steel reinforced hulls, a 1000 book library, and heated cabins.

Confident of their invincibility, they defied the arctic seas . . . and lost.  The massive ice flows slammed into their ships and wedged them fast.  For two years they waited for the ice to release its grip, but the ice refused to budge, and all of Franklin’s men perished.


Oddly enough, Franklin’s men met the native Inuit of the area. A decade later, Francis Hall spent time with the Inuit, who told him of their encounters with Franklin’s crew. The Inuit gave seal to the starving men, but the British sailors never asked for help in survival. Though the Inuit could travel long distances on their dog sleds, they never asked for help in sending out a rescue party.

The Victorians of this age were intent upon asserting their superiority over all other cultures. They saw the arctic natives as ignorant savages, and refused to swallow their dignity by begging them for assistance.


Years later, twenty-eight-year old Roald Amundsen, slipped out of the harbor at Oslo with six others in a small, second-hand fishing boat. They sailed until the arctic winter set in and found themselves in the same vicinity as Franklin’s stranded expedition.

But Amundsen sought out the Inuit. He befriended them and learned their secrets of survival in the arctic. They taught him how to hunt seals and build igloos. He was amazed to find their reindeer clothing far better than his own. He lived on their diet.

When he borrowed their sled dogs for an exploratory trip, he bogged down and had to dump half his supplies to make it back to the Inuit village. They were amused, but showed him how to reduce the friction of the sled runners.


When the spring ice thawed and allowed the Norwegians to continue their journey, Amundsen dismayed the crew by refusing to sail. He claimed they still hadn’t learned enough from the Inuit in how to survive in the Arctic.

Amundsen would not only sail on to discover the Northwest Passage, but would later outrace the British to plant the first flag on the South Pole.


God tells us in the Bible to observe the behavior of ants and learn from them. Even a bug can teach us spiritual truth, but only the humble have the ears to listen.

                                                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)