This summer Cornwall has been full to bursting and the normal good manners on the roads have been pushed aside by the hurtling Chelsea tractors blocking our lanes. And just when I think I can’t get any grumpier I go to the beach - and uncharitable thoughts once again assail me.
Ah but then I pause and start to notice - we, as humans, love being by the sea and we love playing in it. It’s like the perfect toy- always there, never boring, never having to be put away at the end of the day. Laughing children splash in it and try to outrun the feathery fingers of foam speeding up the beach. Grandparents stand on guard, the sea happily lapping their ankles, not at all fashion or body conscious. Even dogs bound in and out of the waves, seemingly carefree.
By the sea, we all become watchers, not wanting to miss even one explosion against the rocks. We stare across its vast breadth and we are gladdened by the sight of skimming cormorants, or the bobbing heads of seals, and if we are really really lucky dolphins playing at stitching the ocean. The sea is always a welcome distraction from the vagaries of life. Even its smell invigorates and you always feel hungrier at the end of a day spent on the beach. We are constantly on the verge of anticipating as the waves roll in, observing and seeing and noting. Fun is never far away.
Further out, the sea is deep and dangerous and that attracts us too with a kind of joyful fear. There the more adventurous swim and surf and paddle board and kite surf and canoe - lost in the swelling plucking tugging waves, exhilarated by the thrill of riding the waves in.
Of course, the sea speaks of the love of God, “vast, unmeasured, free.” And more than that it speaks of God himself - for as we stand on its shoreline we know we shall never ever come to the end of its exploration. Even by the sea, our longings for the infinitely beautiful can look pretty tame. Oh Lord increase our capacity to receive more of you!
And so I leave the beach chastened for my grouchiness, and glad that others too get to see but the edges of God’s ways.