[written in the summer of 2015, but never posted. In the absence of a fresh post, here you go!]
Every weekday evening I take a walk along the levee after work, resolving as I begin never to allow myself to take for granted what I see, smell, touch and hear. Every evening offers a new gift, a fresh and surprising arrangement of the same elements. The other night, I snapped the photo above. I sat on those rocks until the very highest clouds bid farewell to the sun. Some seagulls were sounding, and the water was gently, rhythmically lapping against the rocks. (Listen below!)
I sometimes bring with me something to read, often a collection of poems. This habit serves to clear my mind and re-organize my day’s jumble around beauty and meaning. Afterward, I am mostly fresher and ready to return to my family and attempt a night’s sleep free from the clamoring of work angst.
In the dwindling twilight this particular evening, I re-read a poem I love and an article by Dr. Peter Kreeft on surfing. I’ll share the whole poem, by English author Alfred Edward Housman, and a snippet of the Kreeft article.
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How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day.
To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
I never kept before.
Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day.”
When I was a small child I often felt the hopeless remorse of day’s end, as it signaled the time for play had come to an end. Once I recall feeling a strange despair that the delightful things of each day, again and again lost to time’s passing, were irretrievable.
What indescribable joy I experienced when I found in my faith that no day consecrated to Him is lost, and all days that fade into night are sacraments containing, pointing beyond to and contained by the New Creation. Penetrated by God in Christ, death contains in itself the seeds of resurrection, and nighttime holds in itself the dawning Eighth Day of creation when all things consigned to the tomb of time’s passing will be (are being!) re-created new.
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5)
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The surf can make us all children again in five seconds if only we let it. Think a truly radical thought: think what a revolution it would be if everyone on earth played in the surf once a week. How much depression and suicide and hatred and violence and resentment and anger and envy and boredom and addiction and wars and murders and plots and tyrannies would just go out like a candle in the water?
The sea is a peacemaker. How can surfers be warmongers? How could anyone drenched with the wisdom of playwater ever come up with this brilliant idea, the idea that has moved so much of our history?—”Hey, it seems we’ve got problems. Let’s deal with them this way: let’s dress up in funny uniforms and go out and kill each other.”..
Deep down, we know our souls need something wild, something dangerous, something that makes us feel alive. The sea does that. It’s the last untamed place on earth.
I had breakfast alone with Dr. Kreeft back in 2011 in Des Moines. I’ll never forget it. There are two things I remember most clearly about him.
First, his childlike, almost giddy way of speaking about anything. He is a man in love with existence, perpetually astonished over not only what exists, but the fact that anything exists at all.
Second, he-who-is-brilliant asked me my opinion on two matters. I was flabbergasted. But it was the way he listened to me as I answered, and then commented on my answers, that struck me most. You can feel the difference between someone who listens to your response as a formality, or for information, or as a springboard for their next point, and someone who listens to your response in love, because they desire not simply communication but communion.
Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you (1 Pet. 5:7).
Listen. Be still. Don’t you sense, He is listening? And with such love.