I read Captains Courageous a couple weeks back. Kipling’s vivid descriptions of the ocean and the ships fishing topside upon it captured me. It took me right to the untamed Atlantic, bobbing on the big blue wet thing.
The story gets rolling when fifteen-year-old Harvey washes overboard an American ocean liner bound for Europe. A Portuguese fisherman plucks him from the briny deep. Forced to earn his keep, Harvey grows up fast. The transformation of young Harvey from rich, spoiled brat to seaworthy fisherman kept me engaged. The crew, an eccentric bunch, kept me laughing. Harvey finally earning his father’s respect and attention made me cry. Harvey learns responsibility and teamwork and accountability from one summer stuck on a smelly fishing boat on the open seas. He became a man.
We watched the movie “Courageous” the other night. It’s a Christian film, and a good one, about police officers whose “good enough” ideas of fathering and being men get turned upside down by a horrible tragedy. I won’t spoil it for you by giving out all the plot elements, but the movie got me thinking on several levels.
One of the main characters asks the other men in the story, “When did you first realize you were a man?” Don’t jump to the first conclusion there. It wasn’t like that. They each gave different answers; some didn’t have any idea. The idea behind this question is that fathers do that for sons. They call out the man in their sons, draw them on towards responsible adulthood within a masculine framework. Fathers have a unique role to play in their sons’ lives. Mothers, though equally important in their sons’ lives, can’t do it the same way.
So my question is, what does this look like for women? I need to look in the manifest, the Bible. How can we call out the woman in our daughters? Where is our standard for this ship of womanhood? I guess I need to find out.