I’m a Kansas-girl. I used to look out across land that is so flat you can practically see tomorrow coming. Mountains, obviously, were a big deal to me, the first time I encountered them. I remember when we first came over to New Zealand to tour the country and look for a place to settle down, going through areas like the Gorge, or even just Hibiscus Coast, where the roads are all over the place, going up and down hills and suddenly curving in a way that makes you wonder if the people who designed the road were just a little bit drunk at the time! Not to mention the altitude change! It was a big shock for a five-year-old.
The change in landscape wasn’t just limited to land itself. Growing up for the first five years of my life in a state in the middle of a very big country, I had never actually seen an ocean. Near the house I grew up in, we had a massive pond. It wasn’t a little perfect circle of water with a couple of goldfish in it. This thing divided our land from our neighbors’ in a couple of cases. My dad and uncle went fishing in it, and we have pictures of me holding up their catch of fish almost as tall as I was. I really want to make a point that this body of water wasn’t small, especially to tiny little me. At the time, I couldn’t imagine any bigger container of water. My experience was limited to my little inflatable paddling pool, the public pool by one of my friend’s house and this BIG pond.
So imagine the look on my face when we arrived in New Zealand, an island completely surrounded by not one, but TWO oceans! Standing on the beach, I was looking over the most water I had ever seen in my life. On the plane ride over, I had looked out the window and seen a vast amount of blue. Mom probably told me it was the ocean, but I had no comprehension about what that meant. To me, from so high above, it was simply a blue version of Kansas - flat and unmoving. But the ocean from the beach? That is a completely different story! Looking out to Rangitoto, a little volcano completely encircled by deep, vast water, my mind was blown.
Now, at the time, I probably didn’t show how impressed I was. In fact, to hide it, I would just continue my bratty ways, which is how Mom would certainly remember the experience. However, I would like to suggest that I have grown up since then. I would like to go public with this revelation: the ocean is WAY bigger than I could have imagined it! If we were to go out into space and look at Earth from an outsider’s perspective, I could point out Kansas to you. With a telescope and some effort I could point out the area that I lived in. But I admit it, I would have trouble finding that pond without a pretty high-powered telescope. To the opposite effect, I would also have trouble showing you all of the oceans at the same time. The pond that, in my experience was so massive, can’t even begin to compare with the ocean. Regina Spektor sings,
“Blue, the most human color,
Blue lips, blue veins,
Blue, the color of our planet from far, far away.”
The beach is now a place of refuge for me. I love the sound of the waves and their consistent crashing, even on a bad-tempered day. I like looking out and not being able to see where the water stops and the sky begins. More often than not, this scene always directs my attention to love. I want to avoid cheesy-ness in this part, so let the reader understand.
I would like to suggest that our experience of love is more limited than we think we know. We know love, even big love. Parents, best friends, lovers; depending on your life situation, but we all have people in our lives that have, at one point or on-going, showed us big love. It’s undeniable, it’s there. It’s big. Well, about as big as I thought that pond was before I met the ocean. Yeah, at the time, it was massive! And it’s still there, it still divides properties, it still has decent sized fish in it. But when I had an experience of the Love of G-d, my judgement of love had to evolve. The only difference between what I knew was big then, and what I know is big now is experience.
Listen carefully, I am not patronizing the love between parents and children, spouses or any other kind of relationship. However, in the same way that I cannot consider that pond to hold a candle to the massiveness of the water that covers 71% of our planet, we cannot consider that human love and G-d’s love are in the same weight class. Again, the difference is in experience. If you haven’t experienced G-d’s love, it will probably be a little difficult for you to understand what I’m getting at, so all I can encourage you to do is search. He isn’t hard to find, and He is quick to love. In a MASSIVE way!
Also, this hymn (and blog) is great: http://mybloginthenet.blogspot.com/2006/03/here-is-love-vast-as-ocean.html. Enjoy!
5 years ago