Monday, February 3, 2020

A Different Rhythm

Recently I spent some time by the seashore. Don’t hate me for it, but I exited the frozen north to spend a few weeks in the milder clime of Florida. I needed to thaw out and feel my toes again. Plus the added sunlight helps my mental health. (I wonder if I can write this trip off on my taxes as healthcare.) Anyway, we rented a place near the ocean for a month. It happens to be called Moontide.  It has a different kind of rhythm than my New Hampshire inland residence.

Seaside living is governed by the tides. At least our particular stretch of shoreline is. The beach near us is not very wide. So when the tide comes in, we cannot walk the beach with the snowbirds and other water fowl. If we go for a walk anytime near high tide, I find myself scampering from the waves, hugging the seawalls, and praying that my only pair of decent shoes will not become soaked with seawater.  Shoes are never quite the same after taking a dip in the ocean.

So our walks on the beach are governed by the tides, which means that we walk at low tide or thereabouts. Tides are not like the rhythm of the sun. Tides do not rise and fall at roughly the same time each day. They have the aggravating habit of migrating by an hour or so daily. Regular morning constitutionals become noontide walks or afternoon strolls.

Furthermore the ocean is constantly changing. It changes colors throughout the day. It has emotions. Mother Nature has her moods, as does Father Sky, Sister Wind and Brother Water. I find myself searching for the words St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon.”

The rhythms of nature, including Sister Death (which is amply on display on a beach) puts life into perspective.  It just so happens that I am rereading the Tao Te Ching this month with a study group at our church. It is just what I need. The Tao, which we Christians refer to as the Word or the Christ (the eternal Logos which was incarnated in Jesus), is abundantly expressed in the flow of the tides and the crashing of the waves.

The ocean seems to be breathing in and out, like my breath during meditation. Sometimes the rain forests are called the lungs of the world, and that may be a more apt metaphor, but the ocean seems to be breathing as well. Or maybe the oceans – along with all other watercourses - are the circulatory system of the earth bringing life to every inch of the planet. With every wave I can hear the heart of the world beating.

In any case, it does not take long for my body and mind to get into the rhythm of the earth. That is what spirituality is all about - getting in sync with God as expressed in God’s creation. We Christians call it walking with Christ – getting in step with Jesus - whom we say is the human incarnation of God in creation. To be a Jesus follower means to live in harmony with the One who is one with God. In the process we become united with God.

It is a different rhythm than the discordant beat of human society, which seems so out of touch with God and Nature. Of course the Divine rhythm is present in New Hampshire as well, with its dramatically changing seasons. But sometimes it helps to get out of one’s regular environment and into another in order to perceive God more clearly. I do not mind exchanging the rhythm of snow shoveling for the rhythm of the tides. In them I hear the heartbeat of God.


happi said...

Once at In the Round we were discussing Beauty. Struggling to define it. About ten minutes after we began, one of our more elderly members arrived and she apologized for being late, then asked the topic. We told her we were talking about beauty and things we considered beautiful. "Oh" she said. "I think everything is beautiful." We were stunned into silence. Yesterday I was reading and ran across "Miracles" by Walt Whitman. The beautiful poem made me think of that day at ITR and that wonderful woman who saw the world as it really is.
John. Happi

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay. Thank you.