Thursday, June 25, 2009

Third Time is the Charm, Right?

Something about the beach at night compels me to walk. I don’t know what it is, but something about the hugeness of the ocean and the feeling of being alone with G-d, just calls to me.

It was this call that led to me to the water tonight. I came looking for G-d and this is what I found. The following text is a bit unusual, but it is intended to carry you through my experience, so if you find the tense unsettling please bear with me.

It is still raining as I leave the condo and head for the waves. The night is moonless. The darkness is huge and imposing. As I reach the water, I stop for several minutes and stare in awe at the seamless darkness that spreads from the nearest waves to the tip of a massive cloud looming over me. There is no horizon.

I stand by the water and begin to think of all of the spiritual lessons and metaphors that I can apply to this setting. I come up with half a dozen sayings that I have heard from various authors and spiritual leaders, but none of these feel real to me. None of these ideas are genuinely my own.

Then a statement I have not heard in a long time pops into my head.
“You must find your own answers. They will probably be wrong, but they will be yours and you will be a great deal more satisfied with them.”
I realize that for most of my life I have based my beliefs off of what I have been told, the conclusions of others. These others are far wiser than me, and I have benefited by learning from them, but it is now time to see what the G-d has to say to me personally.

I start walking and praying, the ocean on my left and high-rise condominiums on my right, asking G-d to teach me what HE wants me to know.

As I walk, I begin to notice that the condos seem smaller as they stretch into the distance, but the darkness of the ocean does not shrink. I begin to get an inkling of how small we are and how huge our mysterious Father is. I start to think about how I have been looking for a companion, a wife, greater than myself to help protect me from the unknown. This idea now seems silly to me, as I see in the distance two tiny buildings surrounded by immeasurable darkness. No wife could ever be great enough to outshine or carry me through the limitless glory of God.

As I keep walking, I come to a place where there are no more condos. The world feels darker here, the unknown feels greater. I begin to get a sense in my mind that this represents my life. I feel that the parts of the beach lined with condos represent the times when I will have people nearby to support me, and that the part of the beach without any buildings represents the time in my upcoming trip when I will be alone. I feel like the L-rd is telling me that the absence of other people for a time will make me see Him more, and depend on him more.

Abruptly, I stop walking. I begin to stare at the ocean again. I feel like the water is drawing me in, as if G-d is calling me into his mystery. A crazy thought pops into my head. What if G-d wants me to go into the water? That’s crazy! It is nighttime and I have no idea what is out there. Honestly, I am afraid to wade out into the ocean. I am afraid to go alone into the dark water. There is risk involved, and I am not comfortable with risk.

I take the earphones out of my ears, and set my MP3 player on the beach. I ask G-d if he really wants me to go out into the waves, or if I am just crazy. I wait for an answer. No response. I begin to notice, however, that the waves have calmed a bit.

A feeling of peace, mixed with fear fills me, and I begin to believe that the L-rd is inviting into deeper spiritual water. It is time to leave the gentle waves of the shore. Still afraid, I walk about 10 feet into the water, and after a moment of hesitation, I dunk myself.

I have been baptized three times in my life. The first happened when I was four or five years old, shortly after I received Chr-st as my savior. It took place in a bath tub. My second baptism took place two years ago, while I was working for JH Ranch as a River Guide. After feeling led by the spirit, we gave an invitation for anyone to be baptized in the Klamath River. I responded. My last baptism took place tonight, in the ocean, with no one but G-d as my witness.

As I walked back to the condo, I found a message scribbled in the sand in beautiful cursive handwriting. It read “I Love”.

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