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When life becomes ‘tangled’

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:40 a.m. CDT

On Thursday, Dec. 14, 2005, a story appeared on the front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.

She was 45 to 50 feet in length and weighed in at an estimated 50 tons, yet she was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. Apparently, she had become ensnared while traveling the humpback’s usual migratory route between the northern California route and Baja, Calif.

She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, tail, torso and a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate Bridge) and radioed for help.

Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived to assess the situation. The whale had about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, wrapped around her. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale’s mouth.

The crab-pot lines were cinched so tight, Moskito said, that the rope was digging into the animal’s blubber and leaving visible cuts.

At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow hole out of the water.

Four divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife — a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.

When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushing them gently around — as if she were thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.

Like the whale, sometimes in our normal routine of life we find ourselves tangled up in things that weigh us down. Whether it’s the pressures of work or family, illness or even poor choices we make, we sometimes find ourselves being pulled down by the weight of “life.”

See, crab traps aren’t bad, unless they’re wrapped around a whale. Family and work and the “normal” events of life aren’t bad, but they can wrap themselves around us and begin to pull us down.

It’s at those times that your friends come along to help “cut some of the weight” away from you. Do you have friends like that? I hope so! Better yet, are you a friend like that?

Ecclesiastes 4:9 and 10 tells us: “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.”

Galatians 6:2 also tells us: “By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.”

Let me encourage to build the kind of friendships that you can count on in the difficult times. I truly hope that you never find yourself “all tangled up”, but if you do, you’ll be blessed to have friends to come and help you out. And if your friend is ever “tangled up”, you can be right there for them, as well.

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