What The Sea Teaches Us

“Listening through the heart is not something you must learn to do. It is something you need only reclaim and remember.”
– Stephanie Dowrick –

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I loved going to the sea ever since I can remember. In Germany it was the chilly harbours along the North Sea. The fishermen would sit there like a line of dominoes on the freezing cement curbs, their buckets filled with a variety of sole, mackerel, cod or whiting, while their cigarettes created a hazy cloud above their heads.

When we moved to South Africa we would use our weekends to visit Durban’s magnificent Indian Ocean. I have a distinct memory of my father and I enjoying the huge waves before being told off by the lifeguard. As newly arrived immigrants we did not understand a word that this bad-tempered, red-faced man was saying to us until he pointed to the rather obvious warning sign displaying a giant shark. Apparently, we were swimming in unprotected water and had thereby become tantalising human bait.

Since moving to Australia over three decades ago, I have never failed to appreciate the beautiful beaches of this fair isle. I have spent many hours walking the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas in Melbourne. The Sunshine Coast here in Queensland, however, has to take the prize for some of the most breathtaking beaches I have ever seen. And there is something so therapeutic about walking on their shores.

The sea teaches us many things. One of them is that there is a rhythm to life that we can miss amongst our often artificial, neon lights of suburbia. Nothing can stop the sun from rising or setting and no barrier can stop the tide from rolling in. Observing and connecting with this rhythmic part of nature stirs something deep inside of us … whispers of hope and providence.

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Swimming in the deep blue sea has always thrilled and scared me. It reminds me of life. The deep is not safe, yet sitting on the shores is not an option. On the shores I will never experience the healing, stinging salt water that washes over me, like my tears and my prayers. You never learn to swim in the shallows. There is something about launching out into the deep. Many years ago Jesus told a disheartened fisherman to launch into the deep. The rest, as they say, is history.

I look at my feet as I squelch the sand between my toes. The many broken shells remind me that they too, once held life, and that life passes quickly. “Travel lightly,” they whisper to me. Life is short and these feet are made for walking, not for being tied to the many cumbersome burdens that modernity claims we need. Accompanied by the unruly frivolity that overtakes my hair at the beach, it adds the classic reminder: “Beach Hair Don’t Care.” The sea and its shores reminds us of the splendid and simple joys of life.

Most of all, the sea reminds me that to wait is holy. The sea cannot be rushed or ruled. We can only wait … and in that sacrament of waiting we find untold treasures. Isn’t it about time you took a walk on the beach, dear friend?

“The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think … The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea) –

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6 thoughts on “What The Sea Teaches Us”

  1. So so true….there are so many of us just sitting and overlooking the water from the Burleigh hill ….I try to journal or do some homework but it never really works…..I believe natural waters is a heavenly symphony…. the sea is the percussion set and the rivers his strings, the canals the wind instruments and Holy Spirit the conductor……so when the music is on….I simply listen and accept that I’m in therapy.
    The journey of hair however is way to hard for me to travel – Humidity is a game-changer…..may I please have what you’ve got??

    1. You raised that important partner of waiting … listening – thanks, Pina. I give up on the hair bit 🙂

  2. Thanks again Nicole,
    The beach teaches us so much. I feel that in many ways it teaches us forgiveness in particular Gods loving forgiveness. I remember as a child going onfamily holidays to McCrea and Rosebud. And just playing in the sand walking the rock pools of Portsea. But for sheer awe,Gunnamatta beach got my attention. The sheer power and force of the ocean by standing at the waters edge as the sandwashed over my feet and made sink further down was amazinge but also gave me a sense of awe of the created order. But when I pulled my feet out within a few seconds any prints my feet left were completely gone. It dawned on me at that time hat he blood of Jesus on the cross and he forgiveness of sins really meant and was not just a creed. Love is Patient, love is kind love does not keep a record of wrongs. You know the rest.

  3. A few days ago I got to watch an amazing sunrise at Woodgate beach. Just me, my dog and a few dolphins emerging in the glowing water. These are the moments where revelation in creation become real. Great post.

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