couple of summers ago, I spent a week with my family
enjoying the Outer Banks in North Carolina. One of my
favorite activities was sitting in a chair at a point
where the land and the water touch. It seemed to be
a metaphor for where I am in my spiritual journey.
my chair at the water's edge, I can feel the waves crash
right in front of me. But by the time they reach me,
they have usually run out of energy. There are a few
people in front of me, battling the surf, but the majority
of the vacationers are behind me, on dry land. We have
chosen four different relationships with the sea, relationships
which illustrate the four levels at which we can choose
to encounter the spiritual side of our existence.
High and dry. Those sitting under beach umbrellas or
lying on blankets smell and hear the ocean but do not
feel the water. Its temperature, the strength of its
breakers, its saltiness are only distant intellectual
ideas for them. Where they are sitting is composed of
old sand deposited by ancient waves in distant times.
It is history. It is not what the ocean is doing now.
It is part of the physical world, but it is outdated,
dry, and can be blown away by any strong wind.
On the border. The second group sits at the water's
edge, testing it with their toes. They are dabblers,
tentatively reaching out into the deep while firmly
seated on dry land. They let the water come to them,
let it tantalize and sometimes surprise them. But they
are not committed to one or the other. Or perhaps their
commitment is to both, and they form a bridge between
the two states of being.
Risking the surf. Then there are those who have taken
the plunge, entered into the rough and tumble of that
alien world which is nevertheless our mother. They take
a chance on being dumped, of having their world turned
upside down. The water lifts them off their feet, and
they come to trust the fact that it can support them.
Learning to be at home in the breakers is a necessary
first step for anyone who would truly love the ocean.
In the deep. There are some people far out beyond the
surf, where the deeper water produces a surprising calm.
They are paddling small boats or floating on rafts,
having overcome their fear and survived the breakers.
Ahead, out of sight, is a distant shore. But in the
deep beneath them are other mysteries also out of sight.
To investigate these, they will need special skills,
equipment and courage.
four stages are a sequence which we all need to consider.
Eons ago, in evolutionary times, our bodies once crawled
from the ocean onto land. In the same way, our spirits
chose to leave the world of spirit and become physical.
Our return to those unfathomable depths completes the
cycle and helps us rediscover who we really are.
John W. Sloat 2003