Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


The Sea Like a Placid Lake

Mrs. White's reflections on shipboard, mingled as they were with feelings of rejoicing about the growth of the work, as well as care and concern about the future, were matched by the changeable weather at sea. EGWE 317.2

On the morning of August 4 she awakened feeling strong and well. “All right this morning,” she wrote cheerily. “Had a beautiful night. The water is as smooth as a placid lake. Would not think we were on the boat if we did not hear the machinery and feel a little motion.”—Letter 165, 1887. But the calm was followed by a storm. The porthole was latched and made fast. As Ellen White wrote about it later, she said: EGWE 318.1

“We had a storm at sea—not the most violent. I was upon deck all day, never tiring of watching the rolling waves—awful in their beauty, burnished like the heavens in their varied reflections as they rise as if in terrible wrath. The senses are fascinated with the sight. The waves scatter their spray like an overflowing cataract when lashed into fury by the merciless winds. They caused the strong, massive boat to tremble. They seem to be in a wild passion.... We heard a shriek on deck and saw two dozen passengers fleeing in every direction, for the waves had washed completely over the deck, giving them a thorough drenching.”—Manuscript 27, 1887. EGWE 318.2

This turmoil of wind and water would naturally stimulate Ellen White's mind. Here are her words: EGWE 318.3

“We had solemn thoughts. The massive boat was but a speck on the broad waters. Men who waste their lives in vain struggles after happiness are represented by the troubled sea when it cannot rest. I looked upon the change and conflict through which the deep waters were passing in all their varied aspects of light and darkness—the placid waters like the crystal sea, the gale and the storm, and this proud boat riding upon the storm-tossed waves. EGWE 318.4

“Card-playing, dancing, and mad mirth upon the boat in mid-ocean have seemed entirely out of order and inappropriate at any time. The waters, unless kept within their appointed bounds by a perpetual miracle of Divine power, would, in storm and tempest, in their wild, boisterous vehemence, wreck the fairest vessels and hurl the living freight to a watery grave. What a thought—a solitary ship upon the boundless deep! Day after day we may look upon the heavens above us, the waters beneath. No landmark we can see—nothing that our eyes rest upon that stands still. Shall we ever reach our homes or shall we be swallowed up in the waters of the great deep as thousands upon thousands before us have been? God, the infinite God, how great His power! Shall we fear to trust Him?”—Ibid. EGWE 318.5

Finally, on August 11, the S.S. City of Rome arrived at New York. “Had ... a pleasant voyage,” was her laconic comment (Letter 50, 1887). “However,” she added soberly, “the very night we landed we took another steamer” for her first speaking appointment in America. Then followed one camp meeting after another. EGWE 318.6

These intensive meetings occupied her time for two months until finally she arrived at her home in Healdsburg, California, in mid-October. EGWE 318.7