The 12th-century church of St Peter of Portovenere appears before the unaware sailot

How many of us have witnessed the thrill but also the relief of spotting land in a sea of landlessness, of seeing the lights of the coast through the pitch-black night?

Lifelines are invisible but they are tangible.

They find us as much as we find them. And when we do find them, we hold on to them like sailors eyeing the landline. There’s nothing more urgent and more compelling than the assurance in the proximity of safety. This only makes sense when danger is real, when the end is in sight. Most of us don’t ever feel that, and none should. But at the same time, everyone must.

You look out for a stretch of land, the flickering of hope pushing your sails on, when suddenly you glimpse a broken line rising from the sea. The waves’ dominion has its limits, after all. A few moments later, you catch the din of bells of a distant church, and you wonder where you are, still on the sea or on your way beyond space and time. But the space is overwhelming, and you cling to that broken line like a rope thrown in the middle of the ocean. And you pull and pull and pull until you reach the shore. And then you look back and smile.

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