It was a glorious morning with a contusion of clouds chasing each other along the horizon. The tide was actively going out, the stillness chimerical.
The rocks, unusually devoid of birds, were littered with the shells of eviscerated crabs, and I wondered at the moonlight feast that had taken place during the early hours of the morning. The sea has been unsettled since the floods nearly two months ago, swirling into the beach, changing the shape of things.
The rock I named “The Old Master” has been buried for months and I miss it. Each time I walk on the beach I go to see if by any chance it has been liberated from its sodden grave. I am fanciful that when it comes to light again, I will have moved to the next phase of my journey, possibly excoriated by the sand, but embellished by the experience. It remains steadfastly buried under a beach of sand, added to by a large pool that has developed over its dwelling place. I don’t want to dwell on any portent there.
Wandering back one day the glint of an awkward movement caught my eye. It was a school of small coral fish flopping, wriggling, what passes for jumping in little fish terms, over a rock to get to a deeper pool. It is interesting that for these little creatures, deeper water means safety. How unlike we humans, I thought. They struggle to get in to, we struggle to get out of deep waters. We tend to fight against the tide, they learn to survive within the vagaries of the currents that eddy around them.
A favourite passage of mine is found in Ezekiel 47:1-12. The prophet is shown a vision of water flowing from under the threshold of the temple. The depth of this water increases from ankle, to knee to waist and ultimately Ezekiel is unable to stand in what is now a river. He has to swim or sink. It is generally accepted that this is a picture of the river of life, the living waters that Jesus referred to when speaking to the woman at the well. If we allow ourselves to be immersed in this river we will discover abundant life in the form of sustenance giving trees, multitudes of fish, cleansing and healing.
Our natural inclination when our feet can no longer touch the bottom of a river, or the sea, or even a swimming pool, is to struggle. We vaguely realise that our contending is sapping our strength, but we are unable to relinquish feeble ownership of our mortal will to powers unseen. It is only when we cognitively decide to relax, allow the power of the water to uphold us, that we can see the wonder of the journey.
This week I have been reading of Gethsemane. Do you know that Gethsemane means Oil Press? How appropriate that in this place the weight of our sins was such upon our Saviour that blood was squeezed from Jesus’ body like sweat. I finally understand, I pray, that I am unable to carry the weight of my own sin. The best I can do is confess those sins I recognise, allow the forgiveness of my faithful Father to wash over me. Forgiveness only made possible only by that awful price of atonement wrestled for in an oil press of expiation that dark night in Jerusalem.
Lord, You were broken for me, so as I crouch, broken, at the foot of the cross, Your victory encompasses me. Because of Your love, we can say this passiontide that we are cleansed by Your blood, redeemed by Your death, restored by Your resurrection.