Steamboats - Chapter 12
The Great Stain Remover
Sometimes the rain falls like mud staining the white sheets hanging on the washing line. There’s brown smoke in the wind that blows those sheets like the grubby troubled feelings within the very depths of our being .
The dirt builds up underneath , layers of skin and bone to where no microscope can see and that is where the steamboat finds the great stain remover , alcohol .
But alcohol not only removes stains from sheets , it can also remove the shirt from your back , the clothes from your children , the food from the table , the job you once had , your friends and family and even your sanity . Alcohol is a very potent substance . The greatest stain remover known to the steamboat whenever the waters of life become heavy with the mud that sticks .
Whatever alcohol removes , love can heal . Love can overcome virtually everything and the hardest thing for a steamboat is to accept the healing power of love .
Love can fill the gaps of what alcohol has taken away . Love is also one of the hardest things a steamboat can give . I have know personally a lot of steamboats all over the world and they all have one thing in common , a bitterness within where healing cannot get in . It’s a fact somethings are better to give that receive and one of these is advice . I never give advice lightly however after living with , eating with , sleeping with and breathing with steamboats my advice is to love with every thuing you say and do . Love is something that is better to give than receive .That’s the secret to life . When love can become the great stain remover wounds are healed , . through the washing clean of the memories that stick to our soul like a brown stain or a bad taste that lingers on the tongue . When the steamboat can learn to love again and respect others again then love can wash away that blackness in the soul .
Its not easy when deep psychological scars have been left by alcoholism and most of the time a steamboat who has been hurt has never felt healing love make an impact to change what has occurred and turn things around so that the scars are removed . The only solution to cope with the pain for a steamboat is another drink from another bottle to drown the fear and reality of all that remains . The remains of an illusion in a deceiving world full of depraved people leave the steamboat hanging on to that bottle and drinking from that glass in some deserted bus shelter or some empty seat in a city park , trying to avoid being seen or picked up by the police .
Some of these steamboats I have known to be religious clergy like Father Sean , Reverend Mark , Brother John and the choir boys Tim and Alan .
Pity please for the man with shaking hands and outstretched arms . Jesus wept for him as well . Father Sean went to the weekly meetings and he spoke about how he feared his shaking hands would let the bottle slip and fall before he got it to his mouth and yet as he held the chalice in his hands at Sunday mass, those same hands were perfectly calm and still .
Have mercy on the man who stumbles on his feet as he tries not to fall when he walks home through the park . Reverend Mark has found an escape from the restraints of his lonely life in the presbytery by drinking as often as he could . He became an encouragement for some people who had drinking problems because they saw he was human as well as being a minister of religion. Reverend Mark had empathy for the homeless alcoholic who came begging at the door of the church . He always gave them money even though he knew what they were going to spend the money on . He never refused because he understood how they felt .
Give time to the man who has time for everyone else .
Brother John had a drinking habit that was known by most of the community where he was working . Even though people knew of his problem they accepted him as he was . Somehow his religious vocation made his addiction more acceptable that those steamboats on skid row even though the habit was the same . Brother John washed down drink for most of his life and prayed for those with problems everyday . He never had a wife or children yet he offered advice to many who had marital problems. Brother John knew the secret lives of many of the parishioners and he kept that to himself . For those who spoke to Brother John they found a listening ear , someone who understood what they were going through and yet there was no one who ever listened to Brother John’s problems . For him alcohol washed everything away down the plughole and made it all look clean again .
Look deeper and find there is always another story behind what you see.
Early in their lives Tim and Alan were choir boys . They sang hymns to the congregation every week and after church they drank to the health of everyone they knew . Both lads were alcoholics from a young age and they grew up hiding their problem of regular alcohol use from everyone who knew them . Both men never married and lived together with a very disciplined approach to their life with alcohol .They had a regular routine every day . They got up and maintained their hygiene , had breakfast and went to work until lunchtime in their own business . Then after lunch they drank until the end of the day . These two steamboats lived this routine and no had ever know they were both alcoholics . They were able to walk straight and look the world in the eye . They held down a regular job and carried on with life without any one knowing the secret lives with drinking alcohol everyday .
Surely God in his mercy would have compassion for everyone including all of the above steamboats I’ve just mentioned .
These people were not outcasts from society , they were respected men in every sense of the word . See them as they are and see how we judge others depending on their station in life . If you can see the world through the eyes of heaven then no one is any better or worse , We are all the same . There for the Grace of God we go and someday we will all get there . Life in the slaughter house is hard for an innocent lamb among hungry wolves with a fever for free fodder . The spreaders of scandal are many and misfortune is the product they sell .
As a young lad I worked in a shopfitters factory spray painting and I always remember Stan and John who worked there with me when I first came to live Australia . Both men drank all day long at work . Stan was called middies and John was called pints because that’s what they had all day . They drank until they were unable to stand but somehow they managed to complete the quota of work to be done . Over the years they held on to their jobs even though their names and reputations had been blackened by work colleagues . They were regarded as drunks and no hopers . They were the laughing stock at work . Named and shamed by those they worked with .
Eventually Stan and John were paid off from their jobs and no one made fun of them anymore .
Many years later I saw a news documentary on TV about the homeless in Sydney and couldn’t believe it when I saw Stan there being interviewed . Stan was talking about his job with the Sydney City Mission in Kings Cross and how every night he would drive around picking up homeless drunks off the street and bringing them back to the shelter . What a wonderful way of giving back some credit to his dignity and I really hoped that the people who scorned him and stained his character saw him on the TV . Life has a way of turning things around and John as I was told by a police officer I knew was working for the Salvation Army helping people in financial need . The black sheep who often have gone astray can be brought back into the fold and used by the Shepherd in another way .
Then there was Dave another Steamboat who was turned back from the road to suicide . After years of drinking his marriage fell apart . He was devastated after his wife told stories and lies all over town of how he was a woman hater and a woman basher and how he had abused their children . Those who knew Dave saw through those comments that were intended to destroy him . Dave found it very hard to clear his name or get a job again after that . His drinking became heavy and he retreated from life to a small shed where he barely existed each day . Dave had lost all hope and tied a rope to a bridge near Central station and put a noose around his neck . Luckily for him am ambulance was passing by and spotted him . He was revived back to life and the paramedic who attended spent time talking to Dave about a similar experience he had been through . Dave listened and felt there was something in life after all because somebody reached out to help . Dave quit drinking And went to AA meetings and had control over his life again . After some encouragement from the paramedic who saved him Dave decided to do a nursing course and then completed further studies to begin his career as a paramedic . Over the years Dave has saved other people who tried to end their life and shared his story with them . Dave’s ex-wife had no more she could say about his character and soon left the region to start life in another part of the country and will always be remembered as a lady of scorn . The truth always come out in the end . Love will find a way to renew and cleanse the hurtful remarks made to people who think they have the right to destroy the goodness in others .
Another great stain remover is forgiveness . If we are able to reach out and forgive those who have hurt us we can be healed from sickness or addictions .
I’d like to share with you a true story of a steamboat called Wendy who found an answer to her problems with alcohol . After her divorce Wendy still refused to see how her drinking everyday was a problem , For all the years that had come and gone they hadn’t been nice times and although she knew that her drinking contributed a lot to the marriage break up she never really saw it as a problem she had to fix . Wendy really needed to needed to share her addiction to alcohol with people who could help and still nothing would ever make her do that . She thought she had the right to drink as much as she wanted and she had always been able to cut through things with alcohol . Wendy drank most everyday after work and came home to her husband and kids . Even though her life was a mess ,Wendy was tough and she knew how to survive .
When the divorce happened it was just another thing she had to get through and day after day she just went through the motions .
She went to her office job and continued to treat those around her as life had treated her She thought life was unfair for her and she wouldn’t change her ways . Sometimes fate intervenes and like a predestined decision that had been made for her , she had a second chance in life . One night as Wendy walked down to the liquor shop to buy a few bottles she heard this wonderful music and intensely beautiful singing . She was drawn to it like a magnet .m It pulled her in closer and closer down to the Town Hall where a small group of young people stood on the steps .
“Come inside , you’re very welcome here in this place . “
Said a young girl to Wendy .
Wendy turned around to leave but was followed by a young man who said ,
“Please come in . There is help for you here .“
Those words echoed around in Wendy’s head over and over .
She knew that something was happening to her that she couldn’t explain .
She was escorted inside the town hall by two of the group .
The hall was packed with people who where standing on their feet singing and praising with their arms lifted up high .
Wendy looked at their faces . They were all so happy and peaceful .
Suddenly the music stopped and people began to sit down on seats .
A very well dressed man took a microphone and started to speak to the gathering .
“Oh yes Jesus . How precious is your name . “
The responses from the people in the hall was instant .
Some cheered and some danced .
Wendy was stunned and very much involved with an unexplained emotion .
She was in the hands of something out of her control . Divided between total surrender and a need to seek real help and support she accepted the place where she stood .
Hundreds of people sat down on their seats and Wendy joined them as the speaker continued to speak to the gathering .
He told his personal story of being cured from alcoholism and how he had since given his life to the Lord Jesus .
Wendy saw for the first time a glimmer of hope in her life .
At the end of the testimony the speaker invited any one who was sick and who needed prayers to come up to the front . He encouraged people to come forward . Wendy watched form her seat as many of the people up the front were approached by various prayer leaders who placed their hands on their heads . Some people seemed to fall to the floor as if touched by some invisible force . All this time music was being softly played by a group of musicians in the corner of the hall .
Suddenly the man with the microphone said ,
“I have just received a word of knowledge . There is someone here tonight with a problem with drinking alcohol so this word is for you . Please , trust , just come . There is healing here , so come .“
Wendy was reluctant and sat tight .
Another man up front who seemed to be the pastor took the microphone and started to praise in a foreign language .
Then he spoke in English .
“I have a prophetic word for some one here this evening . Someone with an alcohol problem . You know who you are .
I have a name . again I urge you not to be afraid . That person’s name has five letters in it . It begins with W . “
“Yes Jesus .“
The people in the hall chanted .
Wendy took a deep breath and walked up to the front .
People responded and began to applaud and call out the name Jesus .
In a few moments Wendy was standing before the entire gathering .
The speaker urged her to come forward .
Wendy was surrounded by prayer leaders who placed their hands before her chanting and praying . They continued to pray and were joined by the pastor who placed his hand on Wendy’s head .
The pastor took the microphone and said ,
“There is something blocking our prayers . People join us . Everyone focus on this person before me and pray along with me .
Then all of the faithful in the gathering reached out their hands and started to chant and pray .
The pastor again took the microphone . He looked at Wendy and said ,
“Something’s not right here . Have you a grudge against anybody . Is there someone you haven’t forgiven in your life .”
Wendy kept quiet .
The pastor continued ,
“I feel there is a barrier here . I get a sense of something preventing the holy spirit ability to be present here . “
Wendy replied ,
“Well there is my ex-husband who I haven’t spoke since our divorce years ago .“
The pastor continued .
“Well then before you can receive a healing from our prayers you have to make the peace with him . If you can talk to him during the week , come back here next Sunday for prayers .“
He took the microphone and began to pray for Jesus to remove any bitterness from Wendy’s heart . The entire gathering also joined in the prayer .
At the end of the evening Wendy did feel a little better than before .
There was a definite change in her attitude .
During the week she made contact with her ex-husband .
She even began to treat her colleagues at work much better ..
The following Sunday Wendy returned to the Town Hall .
When she went up for prayers , she told the pastor that she had made peace with her husband . Everyone applauded and immediately Wendy was approached by members of the prayer team .
When they reached out to pray for her , Wendy said could felt a surge of energy flow through her body . It ran to her feet and straight back to her head . Then she felt her eyes close and she fell into the arms of one of the prayer team .
She was placed gently on the floor in a state of unconscious sleep .
She remained there for ten minutes before she stirred .
From that evening Wendy was a new person .
All her craving for alcohol had gone and she was feeling energised in a positive way about her new life .
She was glowing and skipping with a bounce in every stride .
Wendy knew she had been cured of her alcoholism .
The next time Wendy was seen it was about a month later when she walked into the Town Hall with her ex-husband and their kids . After worship and praise she told the gathering that she and her husband and family were going to have another try at living together as a family .
End Of Chapter 12
Link To Chapter 13