Posts Tagged vacation

The Ocean

James at LBI, 2009How’s your summer going? Been to the beach? The mountains? Visit with relatives? Have you tried a “staycation”, taking the phone off the hook and shutting down your internet connection and pretending you’re not at home? Whatever you do for relaxation in the summer, I hope it’s working for you and that you’re finding the time to do it. Recreation is an important part of living.

Last week I and my wife and kids all went to the Jersey shore for a low-key getaway. Lots of miniature golf and sitting in the sand and reading books together. I am not, generally speaking, a nature person. I get as much inspiration watching people in airports and crowds rushing around on a city sidewalk as I do walking through a forest or watching a bird build a nest. Some might think I’m weird, and I suppose I probably am. But the one aspect of nature that I really find puts me in touch with the Divine like nothing else is the ocean.

I am an ocean guy. I love the waves, the crash of surf, the infinite variety of ripples upon waves upon swells upon currents. I’m not too hot about mysterious pointy things that stab your ankles, but that’s beside the point. I just plain love the ocean. And on this last visit, I had an experience I’d like to share with you.

I was standing on the edge of the surf, looking out at the waves, and beyond them at the seemingly infinite horizon. My four-year-old son’s little hand was gripping my right hand, and he stood there with me. Occasionally he would get a little more adventuresome and take another step deeper into the water, and I’d step with him. Sometimes he’d back out a few quick steps, and I’d calmly retreat with him. However deep he wanted to go, I would go, and no deeper. And holding my hand, he felt totally free to explore safely. And I got to thinking.

First, I reflected that my own father probably did the same with me, although I cannot remember it. I prayed that my son would remember this somehow. Then for a moment I felt a yearning pang, thinking, “Who do I have to hold my hand and guide and protect me as I stand at the edge of the ocean?” Of course, I immediately realized that I had my Father in Heaven, who was always willing to hold my hand. And then is when it really hit me.

The Word of God is an ocean of truth. We first approach it unable to swim, unable to fathom its depths, unable to cross it. It is an immense mystery that draws us. We spend much of our time just playing in its surf. Even as we get older and go deeper, we still are only just splashing in its edges. We can build boats (construct a studied understanding of doctrine) with which to cross it, but even then we are only just on its surface. We can swim in it, and explore its depths, and yet we are still only just barely comprehending it. Put on a mask and dive deep, and you may think you are seeing everything down there, but the reality is you can only see a short distance. You could explore it forever. Read Secrets of Heaven, and it is not hard to get the same sensation one gets when gazing at the ocean.

I shared this thought with my ten-year-old son, and he added another angle that I love: when you look inside it, you see fish and realize that the whole thing is full of life.

It has been said by many that God wrote two books: the Bible and Nature. Isn’t it delightful that a knowledge of correspondences gives us a key to understanding both. At least a little.

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On LBI (in Beach Haven) from July 4 to 11.

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Long Beach Island

Tomorrow, I leave for Beach Haven, LBI, NJ. Coming with: Gillian, Glenn, Tommy, Siobhan, James, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman.

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