On an ordinary day, I stand on my feet in the sand in ankle(ish) deep water. The ends of the waves coming and going, water splashing all around me. Some waves are larger than others, but the one certainty is that the waves are coming.
Few of us in the Caribbean are any strangers to the sea in all its awe and wonder. For better and for worse, we’re keenly aware of its grandeur and unpredictability. Yet we know so little about it.
The sea was here when we were born. It’s here as we live. It will be here when we die. As much as we pollute and taint it through our capitalistic ventures and lack of concern for its wellbeing, we can never eliminate its existence.
Being lost in the moment, I found myself likening the Caribbean Sea to God’s grace. Full of energy and teeming with life, for us and our ancestors, the sea has been, and continues to be, a major source and summit of sustenance for us all, at least in some capacity.
Looking out to the horizon, from my vantage point, things seem calm and still. The view is vast, and the possibilities, endless. God alone knows what kinds of creatures and wildlife exist within it. I can’t perceive any sort of activity. I can’t recognise the undercurrents, or the creatures, or whatever else might be out there. All I can see is this flat, infinite line. Yet I believe there’s more beyond the line and below the depths, though my naked eye can’t see it.
Shifting my gaze from the horizon to a central point, I can see the waves beginning to form. No two waves are the same. All ultimately lead to the same place: the shore. The waves are powerful. They are beautiful. I don’t know the exact specifics as to how or why the waves form, but I know that they do. As irregular as they are in their patterns, they’re constant in their movement.
Then, drawing my eyes down to myself, I see the way my feet are immersed in the water. Tiny little bubbles, foam, sand, all the like, come and go, come and go. I couldn’t control the movement even if I tried. It’s just pure force, and I have to just stand here and take it all in.
Speaking of taking it all in, that’s exactly what I’m doing, not only with my eyes, but with my skin as well. Though my eyes can’t show me, my pores are open, absorbing the sea in ways I could have never known before science was able to prove it. We know what our elders would always tell us what the cure for every thing is: a sea bath.
All things considered, I can’t help but see the sea through new sight, in the light of God’s grace. Regardless of how I look at it, something is happening. If I look out afar, I can’t tell what’s going on, but it’s clear that it’s there. If I look halfway, I can’t say
how or why things are happening, but it’s clear that they’re happening. If I look to my own self, it might not seem like much compared to everything else that’s going on further out, yet it’s clearly there, ubiquitous in the details. And I can’t help but take it all in.
As far as the Caribbean Sea goes, the currents continue ripping, the waves continue crashing, and the bubbles continue foaming. That much is clear. And as far as the Holy Spirit goes, whether it’s the theologians debating, Church leaders directing, or people sitting, liming, talking about it in concrete or abstract ways, what’s clear is that it moves and grooves in ways no one can give specifics on, yet can be pointed to as there.
That’s what’s most paradoxical. As “clear” as our Caribbean Sea’s existence is, it’s just as mysterious. In the same way, the Holy Spirit’s grace is clearly mysterious and mysteriously clear. My “knowledge” is balanced with, and outweighed by, my unknowing. Everything that’s happening ultimately leads to me standing on the shore. Everything that’s happening in my life ultimately leads to God’s grace meeting me where I’m at. So I’ve decided: time to take a dive.
26 August, 2021
Conference On Theology In The Caribbean Today [CTCT] Biennial Conference: Turning The Tide. November 8-12, 2021. www.ctctoday.org