The pace of my schedule lately has been… breathtaking. And not in a good way. The end of the school for my family, the denominational annual conference weekend, Vacation Bible School. It’s not bad stuff, but it hardly leaves one with the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the meaning of life.
And if you’re anything like me, you need some reflection to keep the shadows at the corners from appearing bigger than they are.
Thankfully, that month or so of breakneck hecticness (I made that word up) was followed by a four-day trip to Rhode Island. For the uninitiated or just those bad with geography, that’s an actual state in the Union, not a burrough of New York. But, it does actually include islands, one of which is where I grew up.
That’s right: you have to take a bridge to get to where I grew up, as it’s completely surrounded by water, with Narragansett Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. (I’m clearly an “ocean” guy, not a mountain one.)
The first morning we were there, we took the boys to an inlet on the Bay. My eldest was thrilled to search for treasures, like sea glass and crab shells, perfect skipping rocks and other New England oddities. My youngest even decided that the seaweed wasn’t enough to keep him landlocked, and before long, he was paddling around with my dad in tow. All of this meant I wasn’t ‘on duty.’
As I watched the cormorants land on the buoys, and the white caps gently toss up and down, I thought about how great the sea is. Maybe I was waxing poetically a la Ernest Hemingway, but in the moment, I thought about… how small I was.
The author of Genesis gets it. He/she writes, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” in Genesis 1:1. Right off the bat, there’s a sense that the author and Lee Ann Womack would be on the same page. It’s like that great opening salvo from “I Hope You Dance”:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
It’s a reminder from the very origin of the world, to a country music singer, to me standing there in the cool breeze rolling off the water, that I am so small compared to the vastness of Creation and the depth of the creative, loving power of God. And that makes my problems, my struggles, my worries… even smaller.
I can’t always capture that peace when I’m not at the water. I wish I could. I wish I could remember, breathe in, rest on the truth that I’m just a little kid learning to skip rocks, or stick my head underwater to look for fish, and that God has me covered.
I’m working on it, by trying not to work on it. Which sounds crazy… but it just might happen.