SEA GEM LOG
May 18, 1999
have faded but memories will always remain vivid of the lamp lighting
ceremony in the Cathedral
The flame for our lamp was from a lamp lit at the Tomb of the Holy
Sepulcher in Jerusalem. By lighting ours we joined symbolically
with those already carrying the message of peace for the new Millennium.
The theme of this trip is friendship with others, both in the fleet
and those we come in contact with on the shore. This theme
came alive in this ceremony. The outpouring of love and friendship
from the Tahitian people was palpable in the church that night.
We gathered on the quay at five thirty in the afternoon in order to walk in procession to the Cathedral about two blocks away. Participants of the Millennium Odyssey assembled with
their lamps, (those who had already had their laps lit and those of us who were receiving the flame for the first time). A crowd of local people joined us there on the quay and we began to
walk, it was quite an entourage crossing the main street at rush hour. As we approached the Cathedral the drummers began to beat a Tahitian rhythm and the crowd grew to a crush of
people headed throughout the iron gates. Participants were ushered through with our lamps and met with fragrant flower leis, and beautiful shell leis, which were lovingly placed around
our necks. As the evening progressed we received more and more leis until we were laden with flowers and shells.
I love a place were people of all ages, men and women alike, can wear flowers and not be
thought of as strange. The Tahitians, and all Polynesians, love flowers and color and you see young and old, male and female wearing flowers and using flowers to decorate almost
anything. The leis are made with all types of flowers but the Tahitian gardenia is incorporated so often that the fragrance is almost permanent in the air at the festivities.
The Arch Bishop of Tahiti welcomed the Millennium Odyssey Participants,
and John Ellis, representative for World Cruising, answered the
Arch Bishop in English and French, and a Roman Catholic Sister translated
the Arch Bishops remarks into English.
We then proceeded into the Cathedral where we were ushered into
the front rows. The entire Cathedral was filled to capacity,
even the balcony, and the choir's voices filled the church many
times during the service. The Arch Bishop read the lessons,
then an additional lesson that was unplanned, about Jesus, the Light
of the World. The Sister then read again in English and each
participant went forward to have their lamp lit and blessed.
Don Babson lit our lamp from his, that he and his wife, Lois, had
lighted in Jerusalem, and carried aboard their boat Que Sera, Sera.
As each lamp was lit the congregation cheered and clapped and then
as the ceremony was concluded we were asked to leave in procession
up the center aisle.
As we exited the church we started reaching out to the people in their pews and they to us. People wanted to touch the lamps and to kiss us, give us flowers and wish us well in French,
Tahitian, and halting English. When we were outside the church the outpouring of affection continued until gradually the crowd broke up and melted into the warm night. Many of the
participants said this was one of the best flame ceremonies. We have no comparison, we only wish we could hold on to that feeling of warmth and friendship. The idealism of the journey
takes visible form in the people we encounter. Only through meeting people one on one can we hope to find peace. A big dream of Jimmy Cornell's, an adventure for all of us and maybe,
just maybe, understanding can grow between people with encounters like these. From the Sea Gem in French Polynesia. Until later...