Like the Formidable Ocean

When I looked out the window this morning, I gasped. I have watched Nahant transition from green to red to bare and now to purest white. And I am no less entranced by this place than when it was bursting with color. Yes, the hydrangeas are withered on their stems and the boats have been pulled from the water, but light is still spilling from the sky, the gulls have not ceased to cry, and the ocean—the ocean is as formidable as it ever was.

I walked down to the beach (scarf around my neck, mittens on my hands) and stood still between the frozen land and that great moving of water. It is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Familiar words, yes? I love God like I love the ocean—because He too never changes. Even when our hearts are frozen, He is still moving, and moving powerfully.

Every now and then, I pause, and I think, “I did it. I actually came back.” Nahant has blessed me deeply by its unwavering beauty; my hostess and her three daughters by their fierce joy and hands-on love. In leaving, I know I will grieve a little, as if I am leaving home a second time. Something in me is tempted to fear that once this beautiful chapter in my life is over, I will find myself floating aimlessly, disoriented, abandoned to find my own way. But then I stand still, and I remember that my God never changes, that I can trust Him, He who will continue to be like the formidable ocean until the end of time—through every chapter in my life.

Wild at Heart

I am reading Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. It may be directed toward men, but it is feeding my soul as well. I too crave wilderness and risk, as men do, but for a completely different reason, a reason I did not recognize right away. My question was: Why do I have a wild heart? And the answer came as I was walking home yesterday evening from the rugged headland on Nahant called East Point. Bathed in a sunset-pink that would be obnoxious anywhere but in God’s sky, listening to a loon calling in the harbour, I smiled at these words that blinked into my head: to be found.

Aha. It is feminine indeed, that desire to find myself lost in foggy hill country where the trees grow thick and the river is quiet but deadly in its swiftness. Here is woman’s heart in three words: to be found. We too desire adventure, want to take daring leaps . . . because we want to be rescued from danger.

A man, however, leaves behind the known and ventures into the wild to find. Find himself, discover what he is made of. And find that damsel in distress and rescue her.

Life is a love story. Yes, our very existence is founded on romance—not only between men and women, but first and foremost between the King and us. Human romance must flow from divine romance, if it is to be as passionate as it can be. It was He, after all, who created the wild and that craving within us to experience the wild. Why? Because He wishes to be found by and to find us.

So I will allure her;

I will lead her into the desert

and speak to her heart.

—Hosea 2:16

A Pumpkin and an Ancient Gift

Yesterday I attacked the pumpkin on the front step. It is now appreciated anew in cookie and muffin form. Next week, pie form, when the American Thanksgiving rolls around. Felt good to hack that thing into pieces, boil it, blend it, bake it.

A few days ago, I was raking leaves—a gazillion leaves. My arms didn’t like me come day’s end, but it was a good feeling, to toil in the crisp air and later truly understand what rest means. I recognize that not everyone is called or able to toil like that—strain their muscles, or push their hands into soil, split a log, prune a tree—but I think something in every person comes alive when mastering creation.

Back in Eden, the greenery and beasts within were given to Adam, first man, and I believe that ancient gift is still waiting to be opened by any who desire it. In days past, those men who spent their days tilling the fields, harvesting the crops, training their horses; and those women who drew carrots from the earth and milk from the cows—they sweat, bled, wept, and rejoiced with creation. And in doing so, I think they must have tasted Eden. I think this because I myself have tasted it, when I am weeding in the garden, when my horse yields to the touch of my leg, when I reach beneath a chicken and remove the warm, brown oval that is a fresh egg—or when I am transforming a pumpkin into goodies. And my soul says Yes when I see a boat coasting on the waves that press upon Nahant, sails swollen with wind, or when I see a child swinging from a branch. Dancing with the ocean, dancing with the tree. In those moments, we are transported back to the Beginning, when life was simple—when man was living and breathing God’s goodness through the tangible world.

Ha, I guess those pumpkin goodies feed more than the body; they also feed the soul.

Chasms of Mystery

As I sat on the ragged purple rocks, watching black waterbirds spread their wings and a seal peek above the waves, I realized that if the ocean were drained away, the placid blue landscape would give way to a network of chasms into which one could fall and never be found. Is not the mystery of God the same? If we were given liberty to step into His divine mind, we would find ourselves overwhelmed, terrified, struck with a wonder too great to bear within our weak human flesh. And so those chasms remain hidden. Just as the tide recedes, revealing only a fragment of what lies beneath the surface, so too does God reveal only fragments of His mystery to us, one gift at a time.

Here in this place so far from home, God has allowed the tide to recede until I am, at times, almost overwhelmed, terrified, struck with uncontainable wonder. His ways are indeed mysterious; I never could have guessed that my life would unfold as it has. With every beautiful relationship I have formed, every light-soaked day by the ocean, He has proven to me that an oasis in the desert does exist. I know the desert will come again, as it must if my roots are to continue pushing down in faith, but growth happens here too, in the oasis. My leaves have unfurled, my flowers blossomed, as they never have before. And when the tide encroaches again, my roots will drink deep from that lush crown given me by God.