Pastor’s Corner: Plimsoll Lines

A model of the Plimsoll or load markings on the side of a ship.

October 2, 2019

On the side of a cargo ship are a series of horizontal lines. Known as load lines or Plimsoll lines, they indicate the deepest safe displacement of that particular ship in different conditions. The top line, which would be at the water’s edge for the heaviest load, is for tropical fresh water conditions. The lowest line, indicating the lightest load, is marked “WNA” – winter in the North Atlantic Ocean. If a ship will journey in stressful seas, it must do so with a lighter burden.

Bridges have a load rating. Electrical circuits have a capacity rating. Large rooms (including church sanctuaries) have an official seating limit. For many objects and systems in our world, we determine and declare the limits they can endure.

Wouldn’t it be useful if we could do that for people?

How wonderful it would be if I could measure the difficulties of my life and know (in advance) whether this was in my capacity or not. How wonderful it would be if I could add up the accumulated load and know whether to add the next thing. How wonderful it would be if I knew when the stress would be too much!

The truth is: I can. I don’t have an easy-to-read Plimsoll line, and there’s no record in an office somewhere that will tell me the maximum load of my “bridge.” I can feel it, though. Can’t you? I can feel the increasing weight of my burdens. I can feel the accumulated stresses. I can feel it. I know when it’s getting bad.

That’s when it’s time to lay some things down, to seek solace for the soul, to seek renewal of the mind, to find relaxation for the body. Bad things happen to overloaded ships, and overburdened bridges, and overfilled rooms, and overstressed people.

I can feel it. I’m sure you can, too.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Photo by Hannes Grobe – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on October 2, 2019

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