I told a dear friend, Liv (the photographer below), that I would write about the physicality of the ocean. I told her a year ago, and the thought has never left my mind.
How can the ocean draw you from so far away and sing to you it’s tale from the edge of land? It’s called to me since I left it. It’s called to me every time I left. I’ve dipped my toes in three of the seven seas, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and down to the Caribbean. The effect was the same: The ocean sang to me- sang inside of me! Somehow it spoke a deeper language than the mountains or the forests, it’s lapping waves a more legible tongue than the rolling gate of the meadow brook or the cascading falls.
This oceanus linguam, this language of the ocean has spoken to the men who felt the call of the seas and answered it in ships and boats, with their bodies and lives. Perhaps it’s the immensity of the ocean that does it. How the water spreads along the shore as far as you can see, and then out, with nothing but caps of white, seemingly forever- to those on shore, forever. The ocean does a good job of making you feel small.
It’s not a lake where you can just dip your toes in the water and look out to the other shore. It’s a tall ocean, as if the waves are second story buildings rising up to swallow the land with it’s surges. It always stops short and the boundaries are not crossed.
For those who are perceptive, the ocean calls to them to match it’s strength: It’s immensity shrinking us, it’s beauty crushing in. The human soul cannot be contained and all at once we’re straining to match the beast! Legs flex and bend and we race along the shore, salt spray and sand kicked up with the pounding of our bare feet, shoes kicked off in the dunes behind. Cartwheels, arms to the sky and shouts of laughter. How can God be so good, the ocean so big and us so small? We long to respond to the unfathomable immensity of it all. Every part of us open to our frailty and the fact of our existence within God’s story.
This note, written exactly a year ago, prompted me, “Write about the physicality of the ocean. How it makes us want to be physical.”
I know that feeling, because when I step foot onto the sand, somehow a soul-merging happens and I am cared for, though I am but a grain. How do I express that other than the physical manifestation of joy?