Helen Webb shows off her gold medal for her winning essay in the SilverArts competition.

July 29
13:06 2020

By Helen Webb

The technical definition of a lifeboat is “a boat carried on a ship for use if the ship has to be abandoned.” 

Lifeboats are standard equipment for ships to be used in the event of an emergency. So what do lifeboats do? They keep people afloat until help can rescue them from the situation. Most people will never need a lifeboat to keep them from the depths of the sea.

To my small writing group, the lifeboat has a much broader meaning. 

Several years ago, someone brought a small rubber lifeboat to class. It’s about 7 inches long and 4 inches wide and fits nicely in one hand. It’s soft but firm to the touch. On the side is printed “We Are All In This Lifeboat Together.” 

Each month someone is selected to take the boat home with them until the next meeting. The boat has little meaning just seeing it, but the true meaning changes when you are chosen to take it home.

At home, looking at the boat, you see the love of your fellow writers. You see their concern for your problems. You see encouragement. You see care. You see friendship. You can hold the boat and feel its soft but firm body and know that the group has a soft spot in their heart for you and a firm desire to uphold you.

Lifeboats are for short term use … to save a life in danger. Our lifeboat does not save us from the deep waters, but from other hazards, such as discouragement, frustration, feelings of loss, confusion, or of being overwhelmed with life’s events. It reminds us that at times we all are in need of a lifeboat. 

After having the lifeboat for a month, I now think of our group as a lifeboat … linking arms, holding tightly, keeping everyone afloat.

Our stories are the passengers in this very special boat.

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