It’s not uncommon, the feeling I get. Twitchy brain cells, unsettled spirit. I find myself awake early, making a plan, warning the husband:
Today, I need to see the sea.
In Ireland, we tend to talk about the rain. It’s always somewhere hanging about, just waiting to ruin a perfectly good picnic or nearly-dry laundry on the line. My Irish friends often apologize for the weather, wondering why we’d come to such a wet, gray place. It’s not the rain, I tell them. It’s the sea.
Growing up in as-land-locked-as-it-gets Kansas, I didn’t know there was such a thing – the draw to open waters, the calling of the ocean. In the Midwest we made do with dug-out swimming pools, sprinklers watering our brittle grass. At 9am on sultry summer days, I’d ride my bike barefoot, making it to the community pool in time for the sweet shop to open.
Those days were fun, to be sure. The pools were exotic and fun and bursting with the tanned squeals of life and the possibility of first loves.
But today, from where I sit, under the eaves of a café a hundred yards or so from our island coast, it’s not fun I’m looking for; our sea is too cold for that. I’ve a thirst to be quenched, a spiritual longing only the tide can meet.
In the water and the waves, I hear God speak.
I’m here. I’m still here. Come sit with Me awhile.
Our first term we settled one mile from the Irish Sea, spending our evenings picnicking in the boot (trunk) of our car, parked on a long stretch of beach when the tide was out. The River Boyne was just to the north of our tiny village, and no matter what we did on any given day, the water was always on our radar, at the edges of our sightline.
When we got lost, we’d look for the river or the sea, and instantly find our way.
Now we live in the suburbs along the banks of the Liffey, a valley filled with ancient trees and abundant allergies, willows and streams and meadows of rapeseed. It’s so close, we tend to forget it’s there, ignoring the water just within reach. Instead of the sea line, I tend to look for rain clouds, notice a haze shading the mountains. The sea no longer guides me home.
Maybe you are looking for a level line to tell you which way is up. Or perhaps it’s all storm clouds on the horizon, fogging up your previously clear vision.
Maybe the ocean is a thousand miles away and the swimming holes of your youth dried up and gone. Or maybe you’re lost in a dry and thirsty land, parched for something only a fresh sign from the Spirit can give.
I’m there, too, more days than I’d like to admit. I forget the nearness, the nourishment, the care He is always so willing to give.
For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.
Isaiah 44:3-5 NLT
I am trying to listen, to recognize when I am oh so parched and beyond thirsty for living water. And I am trying to obey, to follow Him to the rivers and the sea (or even a dash through a sprinkler in Kansas), sometimes beyond.
It’s summer now, and with it some surprise seasonably warm days, not a rain cloud in sight. I searched my dresser for a sleeveless shirt and instead found my favourite jumper (sweater), folded and waiting.
TAKE ME TO THE SEA, it says, bedazzled in blue.
So I got up and went, knowing that He’ll meet me there.
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