Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with the admonition to do one thing every day that scares you.
I did a portion of that today, on vacation at the beach. I swam out pretty far, looking for the sand bar, but never found it.
I’m not scared of going out farther than the shore, but I’m not un-scared of it, either. The ocean is so vast and can turn on you in minutes. It is also relaxing, soothing and healing.
For me, the ocean is a metaphor for prayer. So while I was out there, marveling at the 3 tiers of colors I swam through to get to my stopping place, I prayed.
The water closest to the shore is murky blue. A little further out, it becomes a nearly phosphorescent green, and finally, another bit of a swim out, the water was sea glass blue and I could see the bottom, but couldn’t touch.
I bobbed in the waves and offered my prayers, sending them on their way with each rise and fall of swirling ocean water going from here to there.
I prayed for Andrew, and his upcoming thesis research and writing beginning in the fall. I prayed for his PhD program search and application process; for a program that will affirm his place in the world as a prophet with a pen.
And I prayed about the things that scare me. Mostly uncertainty. Where will we end up? What practical ways can we come up with to prioritize each other ‘ neath the demands of a PhD program? Are unsweet tea and sugar-sweetened “Yankee grits” in my future?
But I do know this: I was heard today. I communed with the divine in the ocean – in trust that the waves would not engulf me. Not the waves of the sea in their vastness not the waves of life in its ebb and flow.
Most striking in my time “at sea,” was the fact that though I was farther in the water than I’d ever gone by myself, I could see the bottom and if I’d swam down about a foot or two, I’d have been able to touch it.
As experience has taught me, the ocean reiterated to me: nothing is insurmountable. Things will be hard, maybe to the point of feeling like being lost at sea or engulfed by a big wave.
But if my faith has taught me anything, it’s that the love that holds me; tethers me to a life grounded in divine creativity, in spiritual experiences of ordinary time keeps me and journeys with me.
If I have to travel to the ocean floor, crushed by crashing waves, I am still held, not alone, surrounded by a love I can neither explain nor understand.
Thanks be to God.