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SEA SPONGE COLLECTION AND THE SPIRIT


When my wife Christina and I lived in Tarpon Springs, Florida, one of our favorite places to visit was the Greek Sponge Docks. We lived on a few blocks away, in fact, and we would often take evening walks past the boats, restaurants, and little shops that are scattered along the docks. In years past, the Sponge Docks were major centers for the local economy because of the abundance of natural sea sponges that grow in the area waters. The sponge divers would go down under the water for great lengths of time as they walked along the sea floor, collecting natural sea sponges.


They would face the perils of sharks and other sea predators. Diving equipment then was not what it is today. In those days diving equipment was heavy and cumbersome, with large brass helmets with glass portals through which to see. There connection to the surface was the air line which extended from their large brass helmets and heavy air tight canvas suits to the surface, where the sponge boat would supply pumped air into the line and keep and eye out for a tug on the rope which extended from the diver up to the surface. If the diver got into trouble or when he was finished harvesting sea sponges, he would pull the rope and then the deck crew would hoist him to the surface.


Though the sea sponge market has dropped to a point where only a few sponge boats still operate commercially in Tarpon Springs and while diving techniques have shifted dramatically, a person may still see the old world way of sponge diving in action. On one occasion I took my oldest son Kurtis and Christina’s younger brother on a tour that is offered to see just how the sponge divers did it back in the hay day of their operation.


The sponge diver, in his heavy suit and weighty metal helmet was at the mercy of the gulf waters, submerged several feet from the surface, surrounded by the possibility of a shark tasting his air hose, leaving him oxygen-less, or worse yet, taking a bite out of him. The diver’s link to the surface is that hose and that tug line.


In the Christian life, our link to the surface, our source of spiritual oxygen, life, and our help in times of trouble come from the Holy Spirit of God who lives and dwells within us. Though we may at times feel alone, lost in the dark, helpless, Christ has left us with His divine presence right here, right now, dwelling within our very beings!


In what is knows as "The Farewell Discourse" in John 14:16-17, Jesus says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (NIV)

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