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For the Beauty of the Ocean

posted Jul 9, 2018, 7:21 AM by Tricia Sheffield


Grace and peace be with you!


I’m back from my vacation in Florida where I had a restorative time. 


Above is a photo I took of Juno Beach. (My sister used her water color app to create the effects you see). On the day I went to that beach, the ocean was pristine, flat with no waves, the water moving out from the shore in varying shades of blue-green. The sand was bursting with all manner of shells, and I, being a shell collector, was delighted. With my face down, I scoured the shore, hunting with anticipation for the elusive perfect shell. As the waves hit the shore, the shells made a tinkling sound, almost like glass chimes. 


After a while, feeling rather hot, I waded out into the perfect water, dipping underneath at knee-high level in order to cool my body. But that’s all I did. No swimming for me. I don’t swim in the ocean because when I was seven years old I saw the film Jaws and that terrified me so much that I refused to go out where I couldn’t touch the bottom. Since then, every time I have ventured out into the water, all I can visualize is the opening scene from the film and fear grips me. So, a quick dip in, and back up on the beach I go.


The next day I went to the beach of my youth, Palm Beach. Again, the water was perfect, even flatter and calmer than the day before. And then I did something I haven’t done in over forty years. 


I swam in the ocean.


Oh, sure I could still touch the bottom, but something or someone released me from my fear. Perhaps it was my nephew who as with me. Or maybe it was the still, gentle beauty of the water. But my terror left, and I began swimming out and then flipped over and floated, the lulling motion of the salty water carrying me away. I paused to listen to the murmuring underneath me. It was quiet, almost monotonous, a sense of the eternal in its murmuring even rhythm. As I was being held in the arms of the ocean, I could feel my body and soul being restored, and I let go of all those frightening images from my impressionable youth. After some time, I stood up in the water, and watched little fish dart back-and-forth around me, and every once in a while they bumped into my legs. I remembered this routine from childhood and how it had scared me then. But this time, I giggled at their fish antics. In the hour-and-a-half I was at the beach, I stayed in the water for most of it, not even giving a second thought to Jaws and my previous trepidation. 


I wonder how much we miss because of fear. How are we not hearing God’s voice or feeling God’s presence due to memories, people, events we cling to that stifle the child of God in each one of us? What beauty I had missed because of fear. Certainly, it was a very real fear, nursed from the tender age of seven. But it was a fear that held me back from experiencing the wonder of God’s creation right in front of me, and perhaps many opportunities to have my soul restored.


I hope to see you in worship on Sunday. Oh, and you know what? I can’t wait to go swimming in the ocean again.


May God’s love surround you,


Pastor Trish


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