rest, Spirituality

Riding the Waves

A few weeks ago I enjoyed an end of summer trip driving through North Carolina from the mountains to the coast, visiting family and attending the wedding of the daughter of special friends I have had since high school days. My little red Prius and I covered over a thousand miles!

I finished out the week with my cousin Garner for a few days relaxing at the beach at Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Our only mishap was my beach umbrella disintegrating on the first day after it sat in my hot attic for 2 years. Otherwise, we had a wonderful time sitting on the beach, floating in the lazy river at our condo, and swimming in the ocean.

Garner lazing down the river.

I’ve been swimming in the Atlantic all my life and love it. However, I know that it needs to be respected. On my last trip to visit Garner and her husband Butch at their home at Kure Beach, the waves were so rough that I got slammed into the sand and crawled out before I broke a bone. The undertow and rip currents can be strong and can pull out even a strong swimmer.

 But on this trip the storms were far enough out to sea to allow the water to be calm and friendly. Garner and I floated and dove in the salty water, and it felt like heaven!  The undertow was still there, swirling around my legs and causing me to push against it to get back on shore, but not in a dangerous way.

Sunrise over the peaceful Atlantic.

I did some research on waves (even going to some children’s sites) and still cannot wrap my brain around how the moon’s gravitational pull and the rotation of the earth causes low and high tides. One site said that energy moves through the waves, causing them to swell and crash. Like much in life, I accept it, whether I understand it or not.

Even if I can’t comprehend the science, I love feeling the rhythm of the waves as they come into shore, deposit their treasures, then slide back along the sand to return to the vast ocean. The ebb and flow of the water is relaxing and comforting, connecting me to the universe.

I have been thinking about the rhythms of life, the ebbs and flows, ups and downs that we all experience. Now that I’m no longer on a school schedule, the rhythm of my life has changed, although I still get anxious when July rolls around, thinking I am going to have to gear up for a new school year. Just as the ocean is always moving, the ebb and flow of life is constantly changing.

My highs and lows are not as drastic now as they were in my younger years. Like the waves flowing in, I’ve learned to cherish the good times of joy and fun. While it is exciting to ride a wave into shore, I realize that life is not lived on the crest of the wave. The tasks and worries of everyday life will be waiting when I come up for air.

 For the most part, my life is lived in the calm between the waves. Sometimes the ocean is stormy and sometimes it is peaceful and calm. Just like the waves returning to the deep, pulling me with the current, I’m learning that I don’t have to let my times of anxiety and sadness overwhelm me. They last for a time, and then I can reclaim my peace.

Most importantly, I’m reminded that God will be with me through whatever storms may come.

But now, says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
    the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you…
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    you are honored, and I love you.”

(Isaiah 43, 1-2a, 4)

How comforting to know that God promises to be with me as I pass through the waters and that I am precious in his eyes, no matter how washed up I may feel.

I’m already looking forward to my next opportunity to dive into a wave and feel a part of God’s enormous creation. For now I will enjoy the cooler days of fall as the rhythm of life continues.

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