Saturday, October 1, 2016

Riding the Millersburg Ferryboat into the 21st Century

On a sunny Saturday morning, my friend Diana and her granddaughter Elyse met my husband and me to ride the Millersburg Ferryboat, an operation that has certainly changed its mission over the last two centuries. I looked forward to a do-nothing day. We carefully walked onto the planks of the boat and settled on benches on the passenger deck. Diana asked that Elyse be fitted with a life jacket, so the captain obliged before assuming his position in the cabin. A few cars eased onto the ferryboat behind us, and we were off on our lazy 20-minute passage across the mile-wide Susquehanna River to what is called Crow’s Landing.

I hoped to see egrets, herons and other river birds, but evidently they too were off on a Saturday venture, because none were in sight. Frightened by the shadows of stones and reeds in the water as we skimmed across the top, Elyse clutched her grandmother. But she soon relaxed, and they went to watch the white paddles churn the water.

To me there’s nothing quite as relaxing as taking a ferryboat ride. A river breeze tickled the water and kissed my cheeks. The hum of the engine and the rhythmic pulse of the paddles soothed my soul. I was in another world, a place where I forgot responsibilities and deadlines and chores, a place without traffic and schedules. So peaceful.

As far as known, this ferryboat is the only all-wooden double-paddle stern wheel ferryboat remaining in the U.S. The oldest transportation system in the state, the ferryboat has been registered as a Pennsylvania state historic landmark since 1971.

 While it can carry four vehicles and 50 passengers, the mission of the ferryboat has changed. Until the 1930s, the ferryboat was an important link between Dauphin and Perry Counties, carrying cargo that included horses, cattle, lumber, grains and packages. Now it’s mainly a tourist attraction, serving a different clientele.

Our mission in life may also change. When we’re young, we may “know” what career path we want to walk, what size family we want to grow, where we want to live. But then life happens. We never marry. We suffer loss. Our career path derails. What now?

I have found God makes a way. He did that in my own life. I once lost a job but found a new career. I had a yen to write, so I enrolled in journalism courses, and before I knew it I became a “stringer,” a newspaper correspondent. How rewarding it has been to interview big people about little things and little people about big things. Once I got some experience under my belt, I wrote a book and then coauthored another with my Friends of the Heart, Kim and Janine.

I am still amazed at how the first half of my life—working as a business education teacher, serving as a director of Christian education—actually prepared me for the second half of life, that of a writer and speaker. I could not have planned it better. And the unexpected events along the way, especially the traumatic ones, matured my faith and introduced me to a God Who is bigger than my problems.

So don’t despair if life has surprised you. You will surely be surprised at where the journey leads, at what God Himself has in store for you.

Have a blessed October!


Upcoming Events:

October 4, 8:45 a.m. - Shirley speaking at the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, New Life Center, Millersburg, "Passing on Your Legacy."

October 22, 9 to Noon - Friends of the Heart leading Women's Retreat at New Buffalo CMA, "If Our Closets Could Talk."

November 12, 1 to 3 p.m. - Friends of the Heart at Hilltop Christian Church, Newport, "Tea with Mary, Martha and Their Psychologist."

November 19, 2 p.m. - Friends of the Heart at West Gate American Baptist Church, Lancaster, "Tea with Mary, Martha and Their Psychologist."

November 20 - Friends of the Heart leading Thank Offering Service at Salem United Church of Christ, Elizabethville.

December 18, 3 p.m. - Friends of the Heart at Thompsontown United Methodist Church, "Friendship: Got It In You?"

If you need contact information to make reservations for any of these events, just contact me through my blog.