Monday, April 24, 2006

Seaside Musings

On our little “bright week” outing I escaped for the better part of one day to the coast, to sit at the seaside and drink in the wonders of God’s creation, in a silent solitude that was nevertheless rich with angels. I think that the ocean is one of God’s most marvelous achievements on our unique planet.

A flat rock just slightly above the incoming tide was my vantage point. The sky was clear, eternal, and the water green-blue—rough waves looming large, just as I like them—and the air was slightly cool and very fresh, full of salt and joy. The sound of the surf, rhythmic in its advancing and receding, filled not only my ears but my very flesh and bones, till I resonated like a crystal wineglass to a tone it recognizes as its own.

I watched the waves with delight, as they rolled and rollicked, slipped and somersaulted over themselves in their reckless haste to reach the shore, finally stretching foamy fingers across the dark sand—sometimes depositing cargoes of strange flora that would soon dry in the midday sun and become labyrinthine playgrounds for myriad sand-flies.

Reflecting on the waves, at once ferocious and soothing, I thought that in this they were an image of our Ferocious and Soothing God—ferocious in his uncontainable ardor and passionate pursuit of our perfection (and oh, what this often costs us!), but soothing in his gentle and healing compassion that washes clean the sullied shoreline of our souls.

As the magnificent sun of springtime advanced across the sky, he liberally scattered sparkles across the incoming waves, and they rode the curls to shore with joyful abandon (and I thought I heard them crying out, mysteriously: “He is risen!”). The living, shimmering lights immediately hastened to attach themselves anew to fresh formations of the ceaseless surges of the deep. “Wave after wave, crest after crest,” wrote the psalmist. So the restless sea rises and falls with its irrepressible energy of worship, giving its blue and white glory to God, inviting all observers to join the chorus of praise.

“Let there be life!” cried the Lord God as He created the ocean, and soon it was pullulating with every kind of fantastic form of life. Just in my little corner of the sea there are barnacles, mussels, and sand-dollars, crabs, starfish, and seals, several varieties of wailing sea-birds, and a curious array of shiny, rubbery ocean plants that could have been conceived only by the Divine Imagination.

Time passed unnoticed, as I gazed out upon what appeared to be a living, blue eternity, stretching to untold reaches and endless ages—yet held in that same divine hand that set the stars in their places and is greater still than the majesty of his works.

Soon my little rock was becoming gradually engulfed by the advancing embrace of the inexorable sea. I thought that perhaps it was my turn to recede, lest the creamy brine begin to give me love-taps on the face in its playful mischief. So I reluctantly made my way back to artificial things like automobiles which had to carry me home—when I would have much preferred to be transported on the wings of the wind. I was refreshed but not satiated; it’s always good to leave the table just a little hungry, for then it is easier to hear the call to return, and to drink a bit more profoundly the next time.

For deeper than the ocean is the treasury of God’s grace and glory, and of all He has prepared for those who love Him.