by Gwen Shipley, CFDM Faculty
I’m on the beach at Manzanita. My son-in-law has filled us with an egg-skillet breakfast, and Bread & Ocean has furnished the coffee and GF blueberry pastries. I have walked on the beach with my life partner, browsed the bookstore with a grand and now am watching two others dig and cartwheel in the sand under the post-noon sun as I write.
When we arrived moments ago, the six-year-old ran, with complete abandon, for the edge of the sea as I watched on high alert. Water holds no threat for him. He has been to the ocean every summer of his life, had swim lessons early on and been raised with an in-ground, backyard pool. I, on the other hand, am not a water baby. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, yes, but inland.
Captain Courage continued past those already stationed on the beach, this time without the company of older siblings. Was he safe or should I be concerned? Was the tide coming or going? What about those infamous sneaker waves or riptides? He’s so carefree and easily distracted… We agreed on what seemed a reasonably safe radius—for now.
In the distance, a kiteboarder skillfully rides the waves. The yellow and blue, half-moon kite dips and dives but mostly soars, pulling the rider across the water at breakneck speed. He or she zigs and zags left then right, atop the white foam; leaning, turning at exactly the right times, occasionally venturing beyond the rolling breakers into deep, deep water, cutting a figure barely visible from the shore, save for the outline of the kite. It’s an exhilarating spectacle. I imagine watching my grand do the same one day.
What a beautiful reflection of a life lived in God. Don’t we all start out responding to God’s love as naive, abandoned and distractible as any 6-year-old running toward the ocean? I’m sure this surfer did, too. For the love of the water, love that displaces fear, he or she:
- Continues to learn the ocean and the sport
- Explores his/her own capacities
- Both respects and challenges personal limitations
- Ventures into deeper water
- Inspires others
Do you feel a fresh longing for the waves? Is there something stirring, pulling you toward a more exhilarating experience with God?
Have you participated in Formation 1 or 2, Spiritual Director Training or a one-day workshop in the past? What drew you toward the “ocean”? Is your “kite to the wind,” turned to catch the Spirit’s breeze? Or is your adventure in transformation just a memory?
Perhaps some of us find ourselves sitting on the beach, sand blowing in our eyes, fearful and paralyzed. Maybe others are staying close to shore, while deeper water beckons us further on.
For all of us, may life with God mirror the adventure of kiteboarding:
- Know the Love that casts out fear
- Grow in discernment and God-awareness
- Deepen in self-awareness and empathy
- Both respect and challenge your limitations
- Venture deeper with God
- Give of ourselves on behalf of others
The Water is waiting.