Photo Cred: Josefa Holland-Merten
Today, when I look at the waves trying to see what lies below the sandy dark tumult, there is nothing that seems more mysterious or chilling. Usually, the ocean calls to me in a friendly way. The reverberations of the steady water almost sound like breathing- a constant in and out that matches my own. It pulls me closer till my toes sink in the wet sand and the waves wrap around my ankles like a cold, but endearing caress. But today, the ocean isn’t a comforting friend. As the fog rolls in and I walk alone, it seems as though I could be the only person alive. I see the shaggy hair of a tall Giant, or is it just the faint outline of a palm tree high above me? I pinch myself and squish my toes in the sand to remind myself that the grey mass hasn’t swallowed me whole. As I breathe in, my lungs fill with the heavy, misty air, and I fear that the grey mass could be my future. But no, my toes are still there and the scratchy cold sand keeps me grounded to reality- that the sun will shine tomorrow as will my future. I hope.
I realize through the dark mist that like people, the ocean has personality too. Through the days, weeks, and months spent wandering the sand, I pick out which beach I want to go to depending on my mood. The ocean’s personality invites or acts standoffish depending on the weather… the time of day… on whom else might be there. And in my times spent at these beaches, I see which hold the best rocks for me to lean against as I journal. I run on the beaches with the most sand and length, when I need to let loose. I visit those with cliffs and monstrous jungle plants, when I want to feel like I am someplace exotic. Sometimes I stop by the beach with the most people, when I am lonely. Or if I want to get alone I welcome the beach that is vacant because of poor parking. The beaches can somehow fit my mood and carry me to wherever I need to go next in my hectic day.
Beyond the beaches that have become a part of my daily life is the vast, unknowable ocean. Through these months exploring the beaches, I have come to respect the ocean with awe and fear. I still am amazed when a dolphin flips his tail. I get excited when a dorsal fin flashes for a second with the tides. Or when a pelican dives head first like a bullet into the choppy water. I have witnessed this time and time again, and it still catches something in me. I have to stop talking, thinking, walking and just absorb the peaceful wildness. I can feel my mind clear and release and sense my imaginations create a story for those creatures I am blessed to watch from afar, though I will never know them.
Then there are the colors. The waves turn black, green, or blue with the sun. And the fog adds an element of exoticism when the sun isn’t bursting on cloudless days. Fierce and sometimes wild, the waves brutally push each other out of the way; roughly rising and falling on a stormy day. White water decorates the ocean surface, as foam collects on the beach. Awe and Fear live together at the sea, hand in hand.
There is another face in the sea as Awe and Fear’s little brother, Delight, invites me to venture into the waves. Delight calls me when the sun is hot on my skin and the waves act in a gentle lull. I first accept the cold kiss at my ankles, before wading into my waist. I am so trusting of the refreshing waves with each step, trying to avoid the seaweed that grazes my legs. Delight pulls me out further till finally I am soaked in a salty, cold bath. Giggling, I jump. I ride each mass of wave that satisfies an adventurous longing for MORE in this world. More Awe. More Fear. More Beauty. More Intrigue. More Mystery. More Play. More Laughter. More Delight…
Mysterious, friendly, warm, inviting, fierce, wild. These describe the ocean’s characteristics. And I realize it all stems from His personality. He didn’t leave a single thing untouched by His presence. He is in the water. He is in the dolphin’s tail flip. He is in the cold dark beneath the shimmering waves. The sunlight reflects off the water because He spoke it that way. The deep gray fog is His mystery. The gentle breathing of water after a stressful day is His reminder that He will never leave me nor forsake me. When the waves crash against the rocks, I am reminded of His power. When the pelicans nose dive, I am reminded of His unique creation. When the sun is hot and the waters call for me to play, I am reminded of how I was created to enjoy Him and all that He’s created.
Yes. The ocean has personality. Because it all belongs to Him.