I grew up near the sea. Though far from it now, my mind sometimes wanders to the sandy beaches and the rockpools of my younger days. The ocean offers a rich retreat when you can take it, whether physically or on a flight of imagination.
Daily life in the modern world seems to have spun out of control with its endless choices and demands. The flood of entertainment and instant communication bombards us with constant distractions. All this can be left behind when you visit the ocean. The seashore has a beauty and character of its own. It reflects both simplicity and splendor.
The strong rhythm of the waves draws one into the primeval harmony of Creation – the dawn of time. The external harmony induces an inner peaceful rhythm in one’s soul. A gentle mantle of grace enfolds as you begin to settle into the simplicity of the ocean’s moods and mysteries.
Such is the peace of sea and sand. Sunlit waves sparkle and gently lap the shore. Scurrying crabs leave delicate patterns on the smooth, wave-swept sand. Seagulls swoop and squawk. Children run and splash and laugh. Soft sand replaces hard pavement. Time slows down. Solitude envelops. The material, driving, masculine tempo of life yields and gives way to the feminine flow of beauty, spirit and heart.
In this space one can take time to be still; to feed the soul. Embraced by the beauty and splendor of God’s creativity, one can be more inwardly attentive and allow one’s natural gifts, however humble, to have creative expression. Sketching, writing, carving, photography, poetry, prayer, music! Quietly, you can find and give voice to your own unique, inner song.
Here at the threshold, the limen, of sea and sand, of solid earth and fluidity, with all its beauty and hidden dangers, we find reflections of our lives. The peace and stillness when the moon bestows its silver light on the water’s surface; the glowing beauty of sunrise and sunset, all serve to draw the soul to deeper places of contemplation.
Then there are days, seasons, of tempestuousness. Wild, crashing waves. The salt-sprayed wind bites and brings tears to your eyes. Bundled up against its buffeting, you trudge the sand. Yet, your soul soars as you wonder at the wildness – the power and majesty of the ocean.
With care, we are able to explore and delight in the ocean’s wonders but we cannot live for long in the depths of this water-world. We can, however, gratefully receive the sea-borne gifts washed up to our feet by the waves. The unbidden treasures of uniquely designed shells, sunbaked driftwood, glass worn smooth; each with a story and mystery of its own.
So, too, is the world of the spirit – the spiritual realm. We can explore and contemplate its depths and beauty, and receive its gifts, yet we remain grounded on the shore with its practical solidity, and with its sometimes shifting sands. We learn the designs of our Creator from the rhythms of the spirit – the need for Shabbat and His appointed times, times of respite to draw apart from the routine demands of the ordinary and material and to turn our focus more fully upon Him and the mysteries and wonder of His Creation.
We need set apart time to be still and to meditate upon the value and blessings of the precious gifts of life He gives. And so we must do, until the day a gentle wave gathers us up and carries us into the glorious and timeless expanse of eternity – of which we now have only a glimpse.