Years ago, I remember reading a profound little book called Gifts from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh. I was a new Christian, a wanna-be writer and a newlywed. Her book was so deep and so grown up, I missed much of her wisdom the first time I read it.
It seemed surreal that she would leave her family, or could leave it, just to go to a beach to unwind and write. And yet, here I am — waiting, seeking what the ocean might bring to my distracted soul; here I am yearning for the presence of God. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Like my sister from generations passed, I am disentangling myself from the daily demands of family, work, ministry, and life. They are beautiful cords that weave through and decorate my life. Yet I confess the tautness and pull of them sometimes knot up my mind. (I suspect I am not alone.) Ann Morrow described a woman’s life being the hub of a wheel with responsibilities and relationships emanating outwards in constant motion. That said, it required so much trust and courage to step out of the circle of motion and to take the time to unknot myself. Oddly, I find it is the very lack of pace that leaves me uncomfortable.
What do I do with my time? Now that I have removed all excuses and counterfeits, what is best done with my sabbathed energies and emotions?
Yesterday the word was affection. We talked about hearts. But not sea shell hearts, although I have found many. He showed me hearts in the sand, hearts outside crab holes, hearts in sea foam, in the clouds, in tree leaves.
His love is everywhere. Will I simply see it and receive it?
His love is everywhere. Is there anything more present or powerful?
His love is everywhere. Am I walking in the boldness of a well loved woman?
As I look back on my God journey, I realize my soul was awakened by the ocean. From a child who giggled at first sight, to a twenty-something who stood by the sea and cursed my life for its bitterness and loneliness, to a young married consumed with “what would be one day”, to a wonder-filled diver who explored the glorious underwaters, to a forty-something who realized that I was not alone as I picked through the trinkets of the sea — God had been there, was there, would be there. He is here. Now.
My conversations have changed over the years and the beach trips. This time together, we dream and enjoy and ponder. The conversations are as diverse as the tides that roll in differently every day. One day it is fierce and windy, leaving me breathless and slightly off center; another day is warm with gentle waves urging me closer.
Every day there are different lessons and perspectives. But always, always is the “voice of many waters”. Always is the rushing energy, the pounding roar, the blue visual feast that stretches out beyond my comprehension. Every day is the welling up in my spirit, in my deepest heart that often goes overlooked or undernourished when I am in the “hub mode.” God is for sure the center of my life, but life itself is draining as “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
So to pull away, to hear him, to laugh and muse, to tease and argue, to deeply intercede for others in a focused way…it replenishes me in the same way the dry sand hungrily soaks up every drop as the waves wash ashore.
What do I do with so much time with the God of the ocean?
Soak Him in.
Find your place, your beach, your sabbath. Find your spirit again.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31