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What Does This Mean?

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

In the summer of my eleventh year, my family vacationed in Florida. I encountered the ocean for the first time. Driving to the beach near Jacksonville, I will never forget my first glimpse of the mighty Atlantic. To say that I was overwhelmed doesn’t do justice to my experience. Almost forty years later, I’m still awestruck when the ocean first comes into my view on a trip to the beach. This past spring as I came within sight of the ocean on the coast of South Carolina, once again I exclaimed.”There it is!”

From the primeval period to contemporary times, humans have experienced the ocean emblematically as a mysterious sign of the divine. In Psalm 104 the writer exclaims: Yonder is the sea, great and wide.” I love the word yonder, probably because I heard the word used in the rural South where I was raised. One of the meanings of the term is being at a distance but within sight of something. Among the various ways that we experience God is the perception that God is yonder: at a distance but within our sight. Such a perspective of God is like viewing the ocean from the shore.

From that vantage point, God is great and God is wide. As a reflection of the greatness of God, the ocean tells me that God cannot be fathomed, cannot be controlled. However, God can inspire awe within us, and God remains the one constant in the ebb and flow of our lives. As a reflection of the wideness of God, the ocean says to me that God cannot be reduced to our constricted thinking or limited by our narrow prejudices. However, God can evoke bold ideas, and God can explode our provincial view of the world.

Prayer

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.” Amen.

 

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