This text originally appeared in an interactive multimedia CD-ROM entitled Ocean Psalms: Meditations, Stories, Prayers, Songs and Blessings from the Sea, co-produced by Teresa Berger and Lorna Collingridge (Durham, NC: MysticWaters Media, 2008); reproduced by kind permission of the authors.


I have learned

 in the deep South

 that hope travels underground.


 Gullah Islands

 reach into an ocean

 that carried slave trading ships

 and is forever scarred

 by the memory of the agony

 below deck.


 Did hope travel westwards at all in the Middle Passage?

 And where,

 if not below deck?


 the slaves seeking freedom would later say.



 where is underground

 in the ocean

 traversed by slave ships

 if not in the deepest depths of the tortured human soul?


 Hope does travel underground,

 and below deck,

 and deeper than the deepest sea,

 yet its whispered promise is always the same:


 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”


Teresa Berger

Teresa Berger is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.  Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of theological and liturgical studies with gender theory. Her publications include Gender Differences and the Making of Liturgical History; Dissident Daughters: Feminist Liturgies in Global Context; and Fragments of Real Presence: Liturgical Traditions in the Hands of Women.  She has also written on the hymns of Charles Wesley and on the nineteenth-century Anglo-Catholic revival. She was editor of Liturgy in Migration: From the Upper Room to Cyberspace, essays from the 2011 ISM Liturgy Conference.


This material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0  License.

Recommended Citation: Berger, Teresa. (2015) “Hope Travels Below Sea Level,” The Yale ISM Review: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 6. Available at:

View article as a PDF: Hope Travels Below Sea Level