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Courtesy of Moon Travel

When I was in 6th grade, my seat in science class faced a big poster with a prayer on it written by Sir Francis Drake in 1577 before his departure to the Americas. The font was fancy and old-looking, like an illuminated manuscript. The first letter of the prayer loomed over the rest in that antique book style, and whenever I zoned out, I would read and re-read that prayer hanging on the wall. For years I had the first stanza memorized; its poetic vehemence struck me, even the 11-year-old me.

Later I would find that my parents also liked this prayer, and hung it on our refrigerator among the dozens of school portraits, magnets, postcards from globetrotting family and friends. At a certain point, the printout disappeared, probably in a cleaning frenzy that, once in awhile, would leave the fridge looking more spartan than it had in years.

Now, as I sally forth into this great, big, daunting world, I am moved–just as I was sitting in that sixth grade science class–by the first words.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
What a plea! For whatever power that be to disturb us. I don’t think it matters what beliefs you hold, or whether you hold any at all about the divine. But I think this idea is an important one; we should be moved to act once in awhile, rather than being left alone in our own complacence, or our own ambivalence for happiness to be realized. 
I looked up the prayer recently for my own sake. Here it is in full; I’ve highlighted my favorite parts.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,


When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. 

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess

We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future in strength, courage, hope and love.




Since rediscovering this prayer, I’ve found many others from lots of different religions. Travel has always been a part of life, both ancient and modern, and the historian in me is very interested in how similar they all are throughout time and across culture.



 Anyway, here’s to daring more boldly, venturing on wider seas, and finding stars! 

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