“In a bombing run over Kassel, Germany, Elmer Bendiner’s B-17 bomber was barraged by 20-millimeter shells which resulted in direct hits on their gas tanks. But none of the shells exploded. The next day, the maintenance chief found 11 shells inside the gas tanks, any one of which should have taken the plane down. When they opened the shells, all were empty, except one. In it was a hand-written note scrawled in the Czech language. Upon translation, they found it said, ‘This is all we can do for you now . . . Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea.’”
– Fall of the Fortresses, by Elmer Bendiner
A captive Czechoslovakian Jew sent a message in a bottle through an ocean of air, not knowing if it would ever be read.
The first message in a bottle was tossed into the sea in 310 BC by Aristotle’s protegé, Theophrastus, hoping to determine if the Mediterranean Sea was formed by the inflowing Atlantic Ocean.
In 1177 A.D. an exiled Japanese poet launched wooden planks on which he had engraved poems describing his predicament. His story is known today as The Tale of the Heike.
In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth created an official position of “Uncorker of Ocean Bottles” in the belief that some bottles might contain secrets from British spies.
Edgar Allan Poe’s “MS. Found in a Bottle” (1833) and Charles Dickens’ “A Message from the Sea” (1860) taught us to “cast our bread upon the waters” and trust the wisdom of the waves.
In the summer of 1977, NASA tossed a message in a bottle into the vast ocean of space. That bottle was Voyager 1, and it included a golden record with greetings from earth in 55 languages along with a collection of 117 sights and sounds including whale calls and the music of Chuck Berry. That record was also engraved with pictorials showing how to operate it, along with the position of our sun relative to nearby pulsars. We did this because we wanted extraterrestrials to know which solar system our bottle was thrown from.
After zipping through space for more than 43 years Voyager is only 23 billion kilometers away. It will take 17,720 years for it to travel one light year, less than one quarter of the way to Alpha Centauri.
Seven billion of us are crammed on a tiny speck of dust circling an 11,000-degree fireball as it shoots through a limitless vacuum at 52 times the speed of a rifle bullet.
Have you ever considered that our planet, itself, is a spherical bottle and we are the message it contains?
If Shakespeare was right, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and if the writer of Hebrews was right, “We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” then you and I are backstage right now while others occupy the spotlight. I have been waiting for this moment so that I could speak to you alone, without the others hearing.
I believe you underestimate
your talent, your experience, your value.
You make a bigger difference than you realize,
and you matter much more than you know.
You will be amazed when you understand
all that you have accomplished!
We both know it is easy to love people we do not like
but God really does like you!
I see him cheering for you
from the sidelines.
And I like you, too. I cheer for you alongside him.
I tossed this note into the worldwide ocean of ones and zeros and whispered for it to find you.
And here you are!
– Your Secret Admirer