God is the Pacific

From April 2014

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God is like the ocean.
The Pacific.
On a day like today, when the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing strongly, steadily, coating tangling strands of hair in a thin layer of salty sand, God is in the water.

I leave my car in a gravel parking lot and reach the point where beach meets pavement.
I peak over the dune that leads down to the water, sand skirting across the ground like a rippling cotton sheet.

I carry on, cresting a hill and then I see it—the water, the ocean,
Flashing blue green in the afternoon sunlight, spanning out into eternity.

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My eyes lock on the horizon and I choose to keep going.
The closer I get, the stronger the breeze grows, until it drowns out the sounds of distraction. All those people with their pop tops and beach blankets. wrapping themselves in sunlight, pretending they don’t feel the cool of the California Current.

The wind whips at me, chills me, until I am pulling at my cardigan, buttoning it up to my neck.
My sandals are heavy with the piles of beach that have gathered between the soles of my feet and the soles of my shoes.
I take them off, shoving them deep into my bag, beside the pages of a textbook.

The waves will not share me with my homework today. They ask for my full attention. Demand it, in fact.
Though I am cold and uncomfortable, I am already caught up.
I am willing to wade in. Ready to be washed.

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My bag sits on the shoreline, subject to the occasional seagull. I hold tight to my sweater and pull my skirt past my knees.

Shards of shell blend with sand making the ground rough along the bare bottoms of my feet. I step carefully, as if on hot coals, the chill of the air compounded by frigid sips of water,
Below my feet, between my toes, around my ankles, wrapping my calves.

The waves are not gentle with me, smacking shells against my shins, spinning whirlpools stronger than any I have known.
I hear a question: “Is it worth it?” and I wonder if the voice is within or without.
I wonder if it is foolish to continue toward the call, my skirt splashed in ice, my hair whipping wild.
I answer in action stepping further into chaos, deeper into danger, wider into beauty.

Someday I will tell my children that God is like the ocean.
Terrible. Beautiful. Powerful.
Pushing and pulling and thrashing with waves whipped by wind.
Not the soft gentle shores of a tropical island, but the harsh and hard beauty of the California coastline.
God is like the ocean.
God is the Pacific.

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