Friday, September 30, 2011

Saltwater Waves

Several years ago, about this time of year, we were able to spend two weeks at a beach house. I loved  to watch the daily tidal changes, the clouds, the beach, the people, and the weather over a longer period of time. The perspective helped me gain a greater appreciation for the ocean, its moods and views. Over the weeks, the beach went through surprising transformations. In the morning, there might be a new ledge of sand, or yesterday's ledge would be gone, revealing rocks that were buried the day before. The kids would make elaborate sand creatures, to find them completely washed away the next high tide. The tides would come all the way to the cliff some days, other days, the high tide would barely reach the rocks in the cove. We watched the waves pound on the point, submerging it with swirling power at high tide; at low tide we could walk out there and view the life in the tide pools. Some days the kids could play in friendly three foot waves, other days the six footers would give them a good thrashing or exciting rides to the shore. The colors at sunrise and sunset, or the moon on the water at night were commonplace spectacular. The varied sounds: waves crashing, sea lions barking, children squealing, birds screeching; the beach is not a quiet place, yet it is deeply calming.

Part of the reason I love to sit and watch the ocean is to think of the motion, the wave surges, the hidden power beneath its surface, and the changes - always changes. The daily flow of the tides, the shifting sand, the rolling waves crashing in and pulling out - all watchful fodder.

I would prefer to write about something funny: the sea lions playing in the spray of the cresting waves at dusk as the setting sun casts a transparent amber glow through the waves, the dolphins curiosity while the boys were out floating on their boards, the local surf boarders as they came in dripping and sandy, "Did you see that, dude, what a nugget!"

Emotions remind me of the ocean. Surges. Hidden depths. Constant motion. Changes with the storms. Unexplainable. Logical facts and reasons sometimes don't make sense. I have feelings, churning waves that splash in salt water tears. My friend says tears are a gift. I'm not so sure when I walk into Target and a wave of memories brings a flood of tears. I fight them back. Target is not the place for a high tide of tears.

The ocean helps me to understand my emotions. Gain perspective. The daily fluctuations of tides flowing in and out. Sand shifting and blowing, restructuring the face of the beach. The effects of the waves slamming against the rocks, splashes tossing in the wind, the deep motion surfacing in the breaking waves. Managing emotions has a lot to do with perspective - being able to step back and take the long view, accepting the daily changes.

The energy of the ocean would be a tremendous source to tap. Perpetual motion. When I am struggling with emotions, I think of the ocean. I imagine the strength there, below the surface. I think of the energy, the power of the water and the life that it nurtures deep within. Yes, it can be dangerous, disastrous. Yes, it can be life giving and rich in all it provides for us: food, weather patterns, water cycles that affect the entire earth. Our earth is  70 % water, only 3 % of that being fresh water. There would be no life without its balancing influence. The same for emotions. We need them.

A different year we stayed with friends at a beach house during the winter. As a storm brewed, we watched through the afternoon as the ocean changed from blue to light green to gray to lavender to navy to purple, then emerald green. The storm broke over a stony gray ocean. My emotions can swing like that some days, too. Colorful, bright, or dark and gloomy.

I think of an Amy Carmichael quote:
"In acceptance, lieth peace."
Emotions are powerful. Accepting them, appreciating them, learning to source their strength and energy. There is beauty hidden there, just as the ocean provides an unceasing source of beauty and strength.

Some of my themes for Traveling Lighter are letting go, looking forward, finding the strength for today, contentment, simplifying, finding peace and the ability to relax, and awareness of the Lord's guidance and care in every detail. Trust.

All of these have inspiration from the ocean--as I learn to manage the shifting sand and waves of emotions, as I travel lighter.

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