And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. (Genesis 1:6-8 NRSV)
When I stand next to the ocean, it tells me about the nature of God.
I take in how enormous it is. I look to the horizon, knowing I am seeing a long distance, but also knowing what I can see is a tiny part of the whole ocean. I know it contains more life than I can wrap my brain around. I know it influences the weather on every piece of land. I know the small droplets that evaporate off the top of it rain down on the land, populating rivers and lakes and ground water reserves. I know this is the water that nourishes all the people and land plants and land animals.
I see that it is powerful and dangerous. I feel it give me excitement and hope. I know I can surf on it, and that if it drags me in an undertow, I am not strong enough to swim against it. I think of how the tide coming in is made up of water that has circled the planet many times and inhabited many forms, and now it lands here at my feet on the beach sand. I think of how the tide will have a different personality every day, even every hour and minute. I can watch and learn from it for a moment, but it will defy my understanding moments later.
I will never be able to see all of it. I will never know everything it contains. I will never understand all the ways it moves throughout the world. And yet, I know life would not be possible without most of the things it is doing every day. When I wade into it my weight does not feel so heavy. When I push against or resist it, I am easily exhausted. When my body gets in sync with its rhythms, those rhythms stick with me long after I’ve left the water, even as I rest at night in bed. It feels like I’m still rising and falling with it. Rising and falling. Those are some of the best nights.
What does the ocean tell you about God? Let us know your reflections by sending a note to Todd Bartlett.
Director, Camp Magruder
*PHOTO: The Pacific Ocean as it touches the beach at Camp Magruder (Todd Bartlett)
S'mores, the e-newsletter of the United Methodist camping association, recently featured an article titled, "Eight Ways to Nurture Faith in Young Children." This is a great resource for camp leaders, many of whom spend time focused on supporting faith growth in kids. But the truth is that ideas for nurturing faith in young children are often pretty effective for nurturing faith in persons of all ages! So regardless of whether you're a camp leader, you can check out the article here.
Are you someone who enters the water slowly, letting each dry body part gradually acclimate to the cool water? Or are you an all-or-nothing, one-big-splash kind of person? Either way, you eventually end up engulfed in the sensation of your body in the water. God's love is the same. Some folks just dip a tentative toe into the idea that Love could be so enormous and unending, and others simply dive right into God's grace! Our camp and retreat leaders are trained to help campers make the connections between what they're experiencing at camp and the love that God offers if they're willing to jump in. We hope that you are willing to jump in with your donation to support the ministry we're doing.
*PHOTO: Campers jump in the water at Suttle Lake (Todd Bartlett).