The shore is waking up this morning… or rather, I am waking up to it.
The sun is already high in the sky, having done the morning work of rising some three hours ago, and is putting on an absolute show: reflecting glittering rays of light across the water’s surface, and warming my skin just enough so the cool northern sea breeze doesn’t make me shiver.
The seagulls glide above the water, their wings stretched out and still as they allow that cool northern sea breeze to carry them wherever it pleases. Their strong wings only flapping when absolutely necessary, they make flying look effortless and it makes me wonder what the world looks like from their view.
The sand, soft and warm, cradles my feet as it conforms to the shape of my toes and heels, and I never want to walk on concrete again.
And then, the ocean. My eyes stretch to the horizon, and I wonder what Spaniards are doing right now. They feel so close- only this body of water separates us- and then I remember this body of water is Atlantic, and the grandeur of the ocean overwhelms. I look out to the horizon and it’s glass- silvery and smooth. My eyes follow the glass toward the shore, and all of a sudden I am in rolling hills as the water transforms and rhythmically rises and falls. It’s gentle, gradual, soft, graceful.
I’m jerked to attention by a crash. My eyes lock where sea meets land as I watch the hills transform into a sharp crescent moon and then dive head first into the ground, foaming with white bubbles. I brace myself as the foam roars at me, trying to hold my ground as the wave collides with my legs. I take a step back to steady myself, and then turn to see how far the wave stretches. It is stopped a few feet past me, and as it slides back into itself, attempting to persuade me to come with it, I think,
All is grace.
At the same time, the ocean is powerful enough to knock me over and kind enough to let me float in its rolling hills. It’s big enough to connect countries and cultures, and personal enough to speak to me on this morning. Unleashed it could destroy everything in its path with rushing water. Harnessed it’s safe to swim in and enjoy. In the same moment, the ocean is completely powerful and completely gracious.
And then I think, isn’t that just like its Creator?
If the waves were let loose, I am no match for His power. Yet, in his love, he tells the waves “you can go this far and no further.” Some days, the waves feel like they’re on a mission to knock me down and hold me under. They crash and crash, relentless pounding. And just when I start to lose hope, my helplessness in the face of real power made clear, I feel the same waves lift me up and cradle me in their rolling embrace. And I hear Him say, this is grace.
Other days, the waves are gentle and inviting. “Come and see,” they say, “Embrace our mystery, plunge into our depth, wonder and enjoy.” And the calm unknown reminds me of my smallness. I think if the ocean is this big its Creator must be bigger. He must be big enough. Big enough to handle my thoughts and fears and dreams and emotions. And I hear Him say, this is grace too.
Where there should be destruction, there is rescue. Where relentless power could prevail, there is wisdom. When we can’t comprehend, there is trust. When we have reached our limit, the waves are told to go no further. Where the Creator is, there is love.
And all is grace.