There is always something ancient about sea. My home in a coastal town, sea always mesmerised me: the sheer volume of the borderless water, the salty winds, the rhythmic noise of the roaring waves, the brightly coloured fishing boats with seagulls circling above, the beating of the surf against rocks and the shattering of it into bubbles, the sound and the smell of the fishing harbour and most of all.... the vastness of the sandy beaches.
It is my habit to go to beach often. Every morning, throughout the sunny days of the year, I cycle to the empty beach near my home. It is here that I have built my coastal experience of prayer. Every time I visit the beach, there is a reverence that I have for the unknown elements in my life. Every time I ponder across a seafront, the most common thought is that of the powerlessness of man and the might of the creation. This reverence draws me closer to the Creator God. Is that the same reason that millions flock to beaches? I wonder if sea-cost offer something more than fine settings of God. People connect beaches with sun and healing, with relaxation and restoration, with big risks in adventure boats and surfboards. For me, seacoast is an altar for God... the perfect setting for a prayer.
Sea is an element of excitement and fear. But why does sea draw me close to it again and again ? I remember Madeline Duckett write in her book ‘Secret Places-Sacred Paths’ about the same wonder. She says, “ Perhaps there is something in the movement of the sea that that subconsciously carries us back to the womb and the waters that held me before my birth” Is that the reason why I too am called by God for a coastal experience of prayer?
Sea prayer is a wonderful experience. It is thrilling to be absorbed into it. As we go into a sea prayer, the mystery of the sea begins to speak to us ... calling us to examine our very own mystery... the mystery of the unspoken fears that hide in the lowest points of our hearts, those deep points within our lives which we find it difficult to bring to surface. In addition, seeing the waters roll over the shore, a smoothening comes to the tired spirit of ours.
Kneeling on the warm sands in an empty beach, I spent quality time with the Lord… quit time with the Lord. In the music of the roaring waves and in the caressing of the gentle wind, often prayer becomes listening… listening to God, listening for God’s presence. I watch the footprints on the sands. There are thousands of them on the shore… footprints of people come and gone. These footprints lead me to reflect on people who have left their marks on me. I try telling God about all those footprints that made my life possible: that list will see my family, my teachers, my friends in the Church, my adolescent companions , my neighbors, my first love…. and the list goes on.
How many times I have felt sad to get up and cycle back home from a sea prayer experience! Nevertheless, the experience is carried in me throughout the day… and it is awakened the next dawn!
"Deep is calling to deep… all your waves, your breakers, have rolled over me" ... Psalm