The Sea of Being
I’m always attracted to bodies of water, for the sight but also for the sound of water lapping against a shore, or a wave breaking onto the beach. Something about it brings me a peace I can’t explain, while also setting my heart to racing in wonder. That certainly was the case in late May of 2015, when I recorded this short clip along the shore of Lake Michigan at Cave Point County Park on the west side of the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. It was a sunny but slightly cool day with a slight breeze coming onto shore, helping push the waves against the rocks.
I’m not alone, as many people have that same experience around water. According to some scientists, we feel that way because we begin our lives in water, immersed in the feel and sound of water in our mother’s womb. Others say humans have developed and evolved around water because of its necessity, so we are inherently attracted to the sound of it.
I can’t help but think the connection isn’t only to a memory of being in the womb or because our ancestors lived near water. Whether by immersion or necessity, water represents a basic building block of life, and to be near or immersed in it is to be cared for, to find ourselves in the middle of what we need to live. In one sense, being in or near water is a reminder that we live our lives within a greater, life-giving, loving reality.
The Christian theologian Paul Tillich referred to the “Ground of Being,” a phrase meant to represent what most of us would call God. I might even use the phrase “Sea of Being,” that reality in which we swim, drink, find life-giving sustenance, and experience the sights and sounds that calm, inspire, and love us.