In ancient times, the sea was the home of Chaos.
I could write that the sea symbolized chaos, but that word symbol is too easily brushed aside. As if symbols are merely tame bits of literary frippery with no power to unleash the deepest truths of our lives. Like opening the floodgates.
To the sea.
For these ancients, the sea was unfathomable. The sea bedded monsters. The sea could surge forth, at any time, and swallow up land, homes, lives.
Death, darkness, oblivion, terror. This was the sea.
And if you love beach vacations and find it hard to understand how the play of light on dancing waves could ever have been a harbinger of doom, then you will read the twenty-first chapter of the book of Revelation with surprise. And disappointment.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
But if you are like me, you will sigh with longing.
If you are like me, the mere act of sifting through an overfull kitchen drawer for a thermometer hiding somewhere in its depths while the milk you had intended to turn into yogurt boils away on the stove is all it takes for Chaos to begin seeping in.
A moment later and the failed yogurt, the waste of good milk, the scorched pot and the murky kitchen drawer have caught you in their surge. One glance around and you are lost in an ocean of legos and marbles and bits of paper from the morning’s craft and a sticky puddle you cannot explain.
Now you are drowning because it is so humid and your kitchen is a furnace and the baby, the beautiful curly-haired baby, abandoned the slip’n slide after five minutes and is now tracking wet grass and clumps of mud from kitchen to dining room to entryway rug.
One day there will be no sea.
Yes, the sea is a symbol and my kitchen drawer is a symbol and whoever told you a symbol isn’t real? Whoever said it was not possible to drown in symbolic waters?
But if it is possible to drown, it must also be possible to swim. It must also be possible to open your eyes and observe the play of light on dancing waves.
To stand before the unknown and the unmanageable and discover, not the hiding place of terror, but the birthplace of beauty.