St. Thérèse would often reflect on the phrase "The world is thy ship, not thy home" to help her cope with the loneliness of life.
St. Thérèse of Liseiux’s life wasn’t always easy, and while she was often surrounded by loving friends and family, she often felt lonely and struggled with depression.
These feelings of loneliness occurred in her childhood as well as through her time in the monastery.
She explains in her autobiography Story of a Soul that as a child she was shy and did not have many friends, taking Jesus as her only friend.
I had to go twice a week to the Convent, and I must confess this cost me something, I was so shy. There was no question of the affection I felt towards my mistresses, but, as I said before, I had no special friend among them, with whom I could have spent many hours like other old pupils. So I worked in silence till the end of the lesson, and then, as no one took any notice of me, I went to the tribune in the Chapel till Papa came to fetch me home. Here, during this silent visit, I found my one consolation—for was not Jesus my only Friend?
It was in these moments that she remembered a phrase from a poem that her father, St. Louis Martin, taught her as a child.
She writes, “It is true that in these periods of loneliness I sometimes felt sad, and I used often to console myself by repeating this line of a beautiful poem Papa had taught me: “The world is thy ship, not thy home.'”
Interestingly, she is misquoting a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine, entitled, “Reflection.” In it he writes, “Time is your ship, not your home.”
However, this misquoted phrase gave her much consolation, as she explains in her autobiography.
[T]he symbol of a ship always delights me and helps me to bear the exile of this life … When my thoughts run on in this way, my soul loses itself as it were in the infinite; I seem already to touch the Heavenly Shore and to receive Our Lord’s embrace. I fancy I can see Our Blessed Lady coming to meet me, with my Father and Mother, my little brothers and sisters; and I picture myself enjoying true family joys for all eternity.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how this phrase comforted St. Thérèse and how it could help us “bear the exile of this life,” knowing that some day all our tears will be wiped away and we will be embraced by all our loved ones in the eternal life to come.