The full moon hung low over the island like a crystal ball ready for my hands to wrap around.
It was midnight and I was alone on the beach. The outline of a ship where the sky meets the horizon catches my gaze. I press my feet deep into the sand and look into the expansive darkness full of water, imagining what Christopher Columbus must have felt as he sailed through the ocean, wondering if his ship would find land or simply slide off the horizon and into oblivion.
I wonder if Columbus wished he could consult the glowing oracle in the sky to see his destiny or if he prayed to see through the depths of the ocean to what was on the other side. I wonder, if I were him, if I’d have had enough faith to brave the trip and the possibility of dying, submerged in the infinite water. I wonder if Columbus was more afraid of the ocean or of the people he might meet.
The Native Americans, as some scientists believe, may have failed to see Columbus’s ships approaching their land. The theory is that the Native Americans didn’t expect to see anything on the water because they had never seen a ship so the boats carrying the Europeans were invisible to them. The Native Americans’ eyes could see the ships, but their brains couldn’t comprehend the alien image.
I’m not sure if the Native Americans saw the ships or not, but I know I locked myself out of my car the other day, and after looking in every cranny of my bag and patting all my pockets, found the bulky set of keys in the pocket of the jeans I was still wearing. I know my dad often searches the house for the spectacles that are perched on his shiny, bald head. So just maybe those ships did elude the Native Americans’ vision.
Columbus expected to find land and he did, not because he could see it or because he saw a vision in the moon, but because he had faith despite the unknown. The Native Americans may have disregarded the image of the foreign ships because they doubted their own eyes.
When we neglect to see opportunities that beckon our attention, we remain in the dark. If we truly want to see what’s on the horizon, we must expect the unexpected.
I still find myself wanting the moon to show me the future, but that would remove the element of faith and that tingle in my belly that buzzes me alive from venturing into scary territory.
Having faith can be as simple as accepting what is right before your eyes. Don’t miss your opportunities — they are right in front of you, or on occasion, on your head.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County and an author. Her column appears each Tuesday.