Celebrating a Sense of Sacred Wonder in the Oceans

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Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

Editor’s note: Today, we are pleased to share the following guest article from Marybeth Lorbiecki, the author of Following St. Francis: John Paul II’s Call for Ecological Action. Lisa

One vacation, my children begged for a chance to see the ocean, and so we packed up our van and drove from our home in Hudson, WI to Destin, Florida, to the “emerald coast”. I wasn’t expecting much. I had been on a few northern ocean beaches before, and I liked them, but the wide open water made my a little nervous because of their powerful wave and storm action. Being a Minnesotan originally, I love my pine-fringed lakes.  Besides, I thought the beach photos were Photoshopped to look more beautiful than they were.

Ah, hubris. I was blown away by the beauty of the sea and its constantly shifting shades of dazzling, liquid turquoise, emerald, aquamarine, deep greensand blues and purples all against the shimmering white sands. I just couldn’t quite believe it even while standing in it.  And how the sea stretched out for miles and miles like an unexplored wilderness. Even the thought of it now still quickens my heart.  God’s awesome creativity alive before me, working though the slow miracles of geological and systemic evolutions to present us all with not only an ocean that supplies us oxygen, rain, and food, and coral reefs and whales and dolphins and sharks and so many other beloved animals, but this breath-stopping beauty to enlarge our souls.

One night, when my husband and I were walking on the beach under the stars, I noticed that my every step lit up. Phosphorescent creatures in the sand and water were responding to the pressure of my feet with a glow. Again, the wonder and delight of it was so stunning, my husband laughed, and danced, and sang through the waves. We ran back to get the kids, and we shall never forget our joyful evening under the stars being treated like celebrities by the sea, getting our every step lit up as if we were on a fashion gangplank. How my heart thanked the Creator of this all!

Yet scientists keep telling us that all this is being damaged, and that the systems and species of the ocean are starting to fail and mass extinctions are coming if we don’t change. In this Eastertime, we are thinking about how resurrection happened not only with Jesus rising from the dead, and with believers after their own deaths, but renewal and resurrection in seemingly hopeless situations all around them. Easter is a time to remember that “nothing is impossible with God” and that prayer and good works, forgiveness, mercy, patience, and kindness can create everyday miracles. And that we need to keep our eyes open for the sacred, awesome, and wonder-filled moments and situations in our daily lives.

That is where the Easter message is so important in terms of the oceans. Nothing is impossible with God. We need to apply prayer and hard work together, repent, change our ways, and protect these divine sources of wonder and awe.

June 8, 2015 is World Oceans Day, and the theme is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet”.  Christian communities and other communities of faith who believe in a Creator can work to celebrate this day, and our ocean gifts, with awareness building activities and ocean restoration projects (river, forest, and grassland restoration for inland communities). In this way, we become part of the process of Easter and renewing the face of the earth, and keeping the wonder and beauty alive for our kids and grandchildren and generations to come.

Marybeth Lorbiecki is the author of Following St. Francis: John Paul II’s Call for Ecological Action (Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2014) and the director of the Interfaith Ocean Ethics Campaign (IOEC) – www.oceanethicscampaign.org, www.facebook.com/interfaithoceanethics Lorbiecki was consulted by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace in preparing positions on sustainability for the UN based on St. John Paul II’s teachings, and she herself attended the UN discussions on a Sustainable Goal for the Oceans in February 2015, helping Franciscans International formulate their position statement.

Copyright 2014 Marybeth Lorbiecki

Image credit: “Bora Bora, Miramichelle, Pixabay, License: CC0 Public Domain

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