Standing on the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico is a great place to face the reality that every wave is “Now.” And then the next wave is “Now.” Now keeps changing every second. For humans obsessed with trying to keep things the same, which is most of us most of the time, the waves have a clear message: “Change is constant.” Sure we might know that in our heads. But the ocean helps us know the truth with our bodies.
Ocean waves end up reassuring many of us as we stroll along the sand and let the water wash over our feet. We practice letting go. We are reminded, or re-bodied, that we do not have to try to control everything. There is some comfort in knowing the waves will just keep coming in without our help. We have a visceral experience that constant change is okay, even as the sandy imprint of our steps is washed away moment by moment. In our boldest moments of awareness we might even see that we too will be washed away in time, and the waves might help us face our own disappearance.
We actually are waves, whether we see that or not. We look separate for a moment, but are completely interconnected. We arise and dissolve and disappear. What a challenge to be awake for the passing moment we are a wave, and to take the risk to fully be the unique wave we are. Brief though we may be, we are not insignificant.
In a recent worship service my friend Lend Faye shared several phrases for reflection. Then the community shared some responses. I scribbled down some of those phrases which really spoke to me. Later I couldn’t remember which phrases were the quotes and which phrases came from the people responding.
“Only a person who takes risks is free.”
“Place your dreams before the crowd.”
“You must awaken those who are still asleep.”
Each of these phrases called me to make the most of the brief moment my wave is passing through: take risks, share your dreams, awaken others. That really is how I want to live.
I know I could knuckle down, just accept any kind of job to make money, be practical, be realistic, try to hold onto the past and keep things the same. I have tried that life before, and that clinging to what seemed secure was deadening. I don’t like living with the insecurity of not knowing what the next moment will bring. But I Really don’t like feeling stuck in the past, like sleep-walking through my own life. If I am not awake to my own dreams, or willing to risk sharing them, then how in the world could I awaken others?
This morning the words of some Judeo-Christian scriptures began singing themselves in my mind. They are all about letting go of the past and entering God’s Now. I took my guitar and began to play the notes I was hearing. I sang the scripture words and even now they are ringing in my head. Here they are for your own reflection this day.
“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3.
“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you be aware of it?” Isaiah 43:18-19
The song named itself “Now.” Fitting, right?
I only get one wave in this life, one moment of passage, one time to rise and fall. I only have one “Now.” After that I will disappear.
This life is too short to waste it in clinging to “the former things.” Maybe that sounds irresponsible. But Life is calling me out right now, telling me to be the unique wave I am for one brief moment, and even to accept that I do not yet know what my wave will look like next. The voice of the Lord seems sure: “Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you be aware of it?”
I am trying my best to awaken to God’s Now. It is terrifying to fall into this unknown moment, to let go of what has been, to refuse to cling to what was. But this is what it is to be one of God’s waves. Nothing is real but God’s Now.
What does it mean to be a contemplative? We are waves becoming aware we are waves and surrendering into God’s new Now.