Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Why I Like the Ocean
We were a lake family when I was a child. Vacations were spent camping or fishing near one of the many, many lakes in the British Columbia interior. Visits to the ocean were rare occasions and the sea was a strange, restless unknown.
Our first beach vacation was in 1982, in Ecuador. I was entranced by the miles and miles of sandy beaches and the warm water - water I could actually swim in. As our family grew, yearly or twice yearly trips to the beach became the norm. I enjoy swimming more than Tim does and he would watch the children play in the shallow water or in the sand while I swam further out. I spent long periods of time floating on my back or gently treading water beyond the breakers. Tim kept a careful eye out, sometimes worried about the length of time I spent out there. I loved the solitude. I saw my beloved family on the shore, but I was distant, observing them, not participating in their activities. There, under the brassy blue sky, enveloped in salty brine, lulled by the motion of the waves, I thought, pondered and prayed. Then, tired physically and rested mentally, I swam into shore and joined in splashing games and building sand castles.
As my acquaintance with the sea grew, so did my attraction to it. Here, I find, life's complexities are made simple. I gain a sense of perspective at the beach. Water, rocks, sand, sky. I am awed at a God who created so much beauty. The immensity of it dwarfs my thoughts. The waves rush in, then fall back, and as they do, little pieces of my worries are dragged away with them to be lost in the vast sea. I am emptied. I am filled instead with beauty that seeps deep into my soul, restoring, healing. God shows his love to me in the solace provided by his creation.
Going to the beach is somewhat paradoxical. There is the simplicity of waves and clouds. But there is also intricate complexity and diversity. Tidal pools with sea anemones, mussels clusters, sea kelp trailing long, scurrying crabs, empty shells. It's all there for the looking. The delicate tracery of sea kelp swaying in the current and the fine prints of sea birds in the sand comfort me with order. Life sometimes seems chaotic, random. Observing the details of life along the ocean reassures me that I live in an ordered world, that chaos is of man's making, not God's. And so I turn away from the sea and return to my daily routines, refreshed and restored. The problems do not go away but I find myself better able to deal with them. And I know that the ocean is there waiting for me again.