Shrimp Boats

July 13, 2010

This past weekend we went to Tybee Island.   As we sat on the beach, we were blessed with the gift of watching shrimp boats about 50 yards away from us.  The boats would be out there as soon as we woke up, and they would be out there long after we left the beach in the late afternoon.  For two days, I sat and watched not only the boats but the crews of these shrimping boats.  It is in rare moments like this, where I get a brief glimpse into someone’s life, that I cannot help but pause and reflect on what I had the opportunity to witness.  
First of all, it made me thankful, for the shrimpers who were out there catching the shrimp.  I rarely give a second thought to where the shrimp I eat came from or who caught it.  After watching the long hours of shrimpers and after watching them stay put when the rest of us hurried inside during a severe thunderstorm, I have a new appreciation for the shrimp I love to eat.   Little do those men and women know that the work of their typical day helps provide for my family an ingredient to meals that are often celebratory–finishing a project, an anniversary meal, a birthday.  Finding fresh seafood where we live now is hard, and we relish the seafood from Louisiana in our freezer. I am thankful for their work! 
During the severe thunderstorm, I watched these boats get rocked and tossed around from the comfort of my condo.  The wind gusts were so strong and lightening so bad that I found my nerves on edge.  I could not help but offer a silent prayer to protect them.  My mind turned also to the wives, husbands, and children back home, who knew there mom or dad was out on that boat in that storm.  I kept thinking…all of that for shrimp?  Why?  It is the same reason we all do our work…to make a living, to provide for our families.  I am thankful for the risk they take to survive.  
Finally, my mind continued to turn to the Gulf Coast right now and the oil spill.  I know there are so many people that cannot get out on their boats right now and make a living for their families.  They posses the same heart, the same drive, and the same perseverance that these shrimpers showed me this weekend.  I am saddened for them, for their loss, and for the worry they must be carrying trying to figure out how to provide for their families.  We must continue to pray for them and offer them support. 
I am left in awe.  In awe of the beauty of the surroundings where these men and women work.  In awe of the fact that there is no “rain-delay” for their work.  In awe of how long it takes for their days work.  In awe of how they use their God given talent and their education.  In awe of how I can take something as simple as shrimp for granted.  
There are men and women all over this world doing jobs where we reap the benefits.  Do we ever stop and slow down enough to really see them and acknowledge their hard work? 
How many pieces of our days and our lives are affected because of someone’s work?
How does stopping to realize that our lives are daily touched by someone we do now know make us feel?

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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  1. Linda V Rivera

    This is so beautiful said. I just lost my dad last night. He was a Gulf of Mexico shrimper all his life. I would love to use some of your story to share in his eulogy. I’m not a good speaker nor a writer but what you wrote is so true to our hearts. Sincerely, Linda

    • Becky Eldredge

      Linda, I am so sorry to hear about your father’s death. Please feel free to use part of it for his eulogy. Know of my deep prayers for you!


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