Saturday, August 02, 2008

Of Oceans And Such

It wasn't as I expected it to be. It was loud and roaring, instead of soothing and calm. I don't know what I really thought it would be, but my conception of The Ocean was NOT at all what I discovered it to be.

Maybe it's all the time I spent at lakes and creeks and rivers. I thought The Ocean would be a kind of calmly lapping entity, lulling nearby vacationers into light naps and tranquil memories. Mostly I just imagined a soft rhythm.

I can't believe that, in all my travels in my life, I missed it. I've traveled to lots of countries and most states. But somehow it slipped by. Sure, I've seen it before from airplanes and from distant seaside cliffs in Maine and Lima, Peru. But I've never been to it, in it.

Never did I expect what quickly became clear: The Ocean had it out for me. ME, an innocent first-time observer. I didn't expect The Ocean to do its best to knock me off my feet, use its swirling foam to make me dizzy and weak-kneed, or viciously pull me at breakneck speeds through sand-swirled tides. I fully anticipated to be afraid of what was inside The Ocean: jellyfish, sharks, or other unknown terrors...but I was betrayed. The Ocean itself hated me and wanted me dead. How many times I tumbled through the waves, dragged by my bodyboard, while I could feel The Ocean mocking me with every crashing wave. How many times I expelled salt water from my lungs and surreptitiously attempted to pick sand out of my more personal areas, even as I knew T.O. would have Round Two waiting for me when I ventured back in. And How. Many. Times. I jumped back on my bodyboard and pretended to know the right way to jump on top of the insidious waves and, still helpless but not sputtering, allow the moon's gravity to pull me to the sandy beach, while I knew at any time the wave could, quite literally, turn on me and render me a limp rag just waiting to reach shore so I could emerge coughing and half-sneezing salt and pieces of dead fish out of my mouth and nose.

I also felt T.O. to be full of contradictions. A thousand times yes, it is beautiful, without doubt. In a way, it is peaceful. It is also deadly and cruel. Untold numbers of sailors, passengers, and explorers have met their end at the hands of T.O. and all its more native inhabitants? T.O. is also one of the great rhythms of the universe. The earth's seasons warm and cool, the sun rises and sets, people live and die, and the ocean swells and recedes. It is constant as history; and yet it is unpredictable. Ocean science is absolutely foreign to me, but I know very learned people are fooled, stumped and deceived about T.O.'s behavior and effects. We are still learning about it and dying by it, even when the ancients wrote the same things we write about its infinite constancy.

All of this can be misleading to you. Don't misunderstand me - T.O. was wonderful. I loved being in it, hearing it, feeling its power - even when that power accomplished nothing for me except permanently impaling every seam of my swimsuit with millions of grains of sand. I am SO glad that I spent so much time in it and beside it. It made me feel very small and insignificant, and led me to marvel at the power of a God who could - and WOULD - create such majesty. How could it be that such a God would so love us, when we are so finite? We die, and the ocean keeps on rolling and thundering. It's outlasted everyone, and will continue to be older than every person on earth, until the end of time. And it is humanity which is the peak of God's creation and the object of his fullest love.

What do you think?


At Monday, August 04, 2008 1:46:00 PM, Blogger Justin sayeth thus:

I didn't realize that the ocean had that profound of an effect on you. :) I'm glad you did like it though. It would have been terrible to get you there and have you absolutely hate it. I always love the ocean and even love when I get tossed around and thrown to the bottom into the sand. I guess where we differ is that I feel like I do defeat the ocean when that happens because after all that beating, I was still alive and willing to go back in. I don't know why I like being thrown around in the ocean, but I do. It's kind of like an amusement park ride. Oh well, I'm sure we'll get to go back at some point so that you can have another crack at it. :)


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