Make me as magnanimous as the sea

To learn how to thrive in this manic world, look to the ocean.

The ocean is sensory abundance. It sucks in your feets with gloopy mud and pelts your eardrums with bird chatter. It crafts alien sandscapes, ridged underfoot, that mimic rocks, mountains, and lunar plains in temporary miniature. The tidal pools end up warmer than the air; the silverfish glisten like lost New Year's earrings in the shallow holding pens.

The ocean works in concert with the sky. Together they shovel air and cast reflections. They take turns indicating what the other might do. There'd be no horizon if they didn't get along.

The ocean doesn't apologize for its off days or excuse its angrier moments. It already knows it is fiercer, gentler, and braver than you can ever hope to be. Such awareness breeds power, to be used with discretion, and the ocean proceeds with caution.

The ocean carries primordial insight that ignores humanity's fussy mechanations and proceeds in time-tested, universe-proven, prediction-busting ways. We forecast the times of tides, yet we can't foretell what they will create or expose. To accept what emerges is the height of vulnerability.

The ocean is generous and expansive. It doesn't judge its guests, because if you've come that close, it must mean you can handle it. So handle it you will -- surprising everyone but the ocean.

Above all, the ocean nudges you to drop the pretense and relax against a force you know can hold you. And you're ok with that. Because once the wind and waves have stripped you bare, and the sand has sloughed off your crusty skin, only then do you breathe, as if for the first time.

Prayer #224: Shell Game

I found a blue jean shell on the shore, all denim swirls and azure strata. It winked wet in the sun, and I could tell it found comfort in the nearby crash of the waves. It was still near its home, near the once and future forces shaping it.

But when I took the blue jean shell back to my shelf, away from the water and driving wind, it blanched -- shocked, I think, to no longer hear the rhythmic pitches of the tides or gather salty droplets on its chipped edges.

The ocean, with its ubiquitous magnitude, achieved what my short-sighted, jealous adoration could not: It put its smallest tenant in the brightest light. It offered context, history, creation, destruction, a full era to create dazzling beauty. Whereas I attempted to freeze a moment, and in doing so, froze a life.

Lord, make me as magnanimous as the sea. Let me appreciate natural beauty as I find it, and never attempt to remove or change precisely what attracted me to its splendor in the first place.

But more than that, set my small mind adrift. And instead, cultivate a mindset that acknowledges a big picture I will never fully grasp, in a boundless world I will never fully see -- though, by God, I will try.