Sending Aloha and Mahalo to the Tanners
Yesterday our community bid a heartfelt, but COVID-distanced, farewell to President and Sister Tanner, who during their time at BYU Hawaii have become great friends of the Polynesian Cultural Center. As a parting gift from all of us at the Center, President Grace gave the Tanners an exact scale replica of the Iosepa Canoe. We hope this gift will remind the Tanners for many years to come of the Center and of our gratitude for their years of faithful service and friendship.
The case which holds the Iosepa model will bear the inscription, “O God, the sea is so great and my boat is so small.” My wife, Anne, reminded me yesterday that I first heard this quote during John Tanner’s inaugural devotional speech in July of 2015 and I have used it many times since. How fitting that President Tanner again referenced this quote during his parting speech last week. He is a man who understands the navigation of big waters.
The quote first came to mind into global awareness in 1963 when it was presented on a plaque to the U.S President John F. Kennedy by Admiral Rickover, a highly decorated naval commander who was the driving force behind the development of the U.S nuclear navy. President Kennedy proudly displayed the plaque on his Oval Office desk. The quote is believed to have originally come from “the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer”
Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small,
It cannot be that any happy fate,
Will me befall,
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me,
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.
Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I curb and bit them on the long
and salty trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?
Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.
~ Winfred Ernest Garrison
There are few periods in history where the world has felt so universally fierce and simultaneously frail. At PCC and BYUH we have been tossed about on the waves of a very large sea. Our boat is so small. But how blessed we are to be anchored in Laie, an ancient city of refuge, where despite the arrows of danger all around, sweet silence and peace do abound.
As the Tanners return to their other home across a great sea, we hope they know that this city and safe harbor will always welcome back two of its most beloved captains.
Aloha ‘Oe, John and Susan Tanner.