The Beatles, the Bible and Bodega Bay - Chapter Two, Lost at SeaHomeMeet Ken MansfieldE-mail KenRead Section of BookBuy the Book

There is something incredibly lonely about the ocean. Its vastness, emptiness, depth, and immense proportions are absolutely over-whelming at times. My perceived self-importance becomes quickly reduced in direct relationship to my contemplation of its grandeur. Its beauty is unmatched, yet that in itself lies diminished by the power that surges forth out of the heart of its very existence. Fish Tales - photography by R. C. HallThe passage of time and the distance of purpose have cast me upon these uncertain shores, a million memories away from the cities, concerts, crowds, and careening choruses that filled and fueled my heart and hopes for over a third of a century. The applause has grown still with age and the fading stars no longer come out at night, leaving me to face the future of my past reluctantly subdued and at peace. At this point I am somehow expecting the proverbial fat lady to come running out onto the beach singing loudly, kicking sand in the air while clutching a torn backstage pass to her abundant and heaving chest.

Now a wondering warrior, I am left to stand here on the very edge of the world like a brazened bullfighter challenging a gracious beast that at any moment could relegate me and all my frailties into unfathomed nothingness.

Like the songs I once loved, I find that there is a rhythm to the movement of the waves as they explore the shore. They offer forth both a welcome and an implied inaccessibility that puts their allure into the dream realm. They beckon until I feel as if I could be a part of them, and yet, they are so compelling and aloof that I can't even imagine touching them. The ocean dictates authority and withdraws into submission all at the same time. It calls and defers unabashedly into perchance exuberance. To love the ocean is like attaching your emotions to a waif that wanders at will, nonchalantly beckoning while ignoring your sensibilities and weaknesses. It summons and rejects in the same sweeping motion. It soothes and destroys in a singular complex movement. It offers only cold indifference while warmly alluding to everything good that has ever dwelled within its depths. Finally, God's very essence comes pouring forth as I offer my confession before its elegance in a cleansing moment of repentance and humility.

The Rocks Cry Out - photography by Bob MartinAs in life, I feel like a pretender when I come before the judgment of the shore. It ignores me and dictates to me simultaneously. I am in control because I can walk away at will, yet it demeans me in its subtlety. I come before the waves to weep and wonder, to rejoice and request, to laugh and let go. It is here because it is; I am here because I am drawn.

Like the woman I love, it smells and feels good to me. Like her, there are certain things I can depend on, things that will never change or go away. There are also things that I deem crucially important, and they cause me to reconsider and become more forgiving of the things that displease me. I begin to drift, and eventually count it all of no account except for the God I worship, the woman I love, and the children that are the blood of my blood. I succumb at the sea edge to the inevitability of this mysterious perpetual exchange: I look down and the waves are touching my soles; I look up and his Word is touching my soul.

Most of all I become filled with love as I kneel before the tide lines. I think of God almost without ceasing whenever I am within striking distance of the coast. His way is one of unquestioning acceptance. He asks so little and gives so much. He gives the most and gives it first. When I am able to look past myself and get a glimpse of his greatness, I can't help but sense that I have fallen into his uplifting grace and stumbled skyward into the deepest and greatest relationship on earth.

If only for a minute he could look down from above as I pass before his gaze and say, "This is my child, in whom I am well pleased" -oh! that would be a day of celebration, my happiest day of all! The very thought of being pleasing to Almighty God . . . .

Just Like Jeremiah - photography by Hannelore RippelSuddenly I realize the chill around my ankles is the cold water of a rising tide. I face the sunset and feel the warmth of his loving hands on my shoulders; I listen quietly as he speaks silent words of blessed assurance into my waiting heart. Once again adrift in meditation, I have become lost at sea.

The tide and I withdraw from the shore in unison, both retreating into his eternal purpose. The in-between of getting to the here from the there of my life is a blatant blur by his design.

As I ease to the east, I wonder to the west what lies in store for me tomorrow; the tide ebbs in obedience to its eternal purpose and doesn't give it a thought.

I do know that we will all be here in the morning.

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