Have you ever experienced something so lovely, so unique, so cool that all you wanted in the world was just to capture that experience, either to share it with others, or simply to have it always as a wonderful, distinct memory?
Most people have, and that urge to capture the essence of a given experience looks different in different people. Some people take pictures (and thank goodness for those people). Other people, including myself at times, pull out their phones and record a grainy, low-light version of the Great Experience, whatever it might be. This option always seems a little pointless to me when I take it, because I’m not sure whether to watch the recorded version or the real, live thing going on in front of my eyes. After all, which is the real experience, if I was distracting myself with the video camera the whole time? But that is a tangent.
This is about the beach, and the beauty I saw there. About the urge to capture it, either in words or a pictures,and share it with others. And knowing it’s impossible to really capture the same thing. Maybe art stems from the decision to try anyway. I love reading about Monet, and his valiant attempts to capture light, the way our eyes actually see it. Some friends of mine are in a neuroscience class this semester, and they’ve told me just a little of what happens in the simple act of seeing something. It’s like your eyes and brain become superheroes, accomplishing incredibly detailed and important tasks in practically no time.
In, well, the blink of an eye. Ahaha.
I saw some fireworks this week, and good grief, I could feel how hard my eyes were working to first adjust to the darkness, then quickly do whatever-it-is-they-do-to-let-in-the-right-amount-of-light as the brightly colored sparks exploded, setting the palm trees into vivid silhouette.
My point is that, as amazing as technology has developed, with our camera-design-people designing ever more intricate lenses and other camera-ey things, nothing compares to what our eyes already do. Claude Monet in his studio never had the infinitely varied lighting of the sun, which is perhaps one reason for his lovely gardens. Can you imagine spending your life studying waterlilies and covered bridges, trying to capture just a little of their beauty?
I’ve gotten similar feelings after seeing a really good play. I know it’s a one-time experience, but there’s nothing I want more than to see it again. Or at least have the assurance that someday I’ll see it again. I won’t, and that’s the bittersweetness of it–that the thing that is most unforgettable for me is that way precisely because there’s a risk of forgetting it.
This ramble is supposed to be about the love and fear of God, reflected in my own love and fear of the ocean. It’s about how I almost didn’t go to the beach, because I thought, “well, I won’t swim anyway, since it scares me.” And it’s true, it does.
I have never understood the fanatic appeal that living on the coast has for some people, especially considering the threat of hurricanes. I guess what I saw this week helped me understand, a little, why it’s so worth it for them. The ocean is beautiful. I’ll try to describe it, and I’ll fail just like everyone else who has tried to describe it, and failed.
It’s like describing the sky–you could call it blue, and technically speaking you wouldn’t be wrong…but you would be wrong. There are blues, and greens, and creamy foams, and gradations of shadings I didn’t ever consider before. The water spreads back from the white sand and begins changing, from the lightest of creamy greens to turquoise, darkening into a deep, i-can’t-find-the-word-to-describe-it blue. Only before it quite makes it to the darker shade, there is a small line, made of a wave or maybe two, that is the color of summer grass-it’s a rich, heady green, and it doesn’t really belong, but it’s there to make you catch your breath if you notice it.
That’s just one part of it–the part that reflects a mostly-sunny blue sky, with a few blushing pink morning clouds running across it. You turn your eyes just a little, and the other part of the sky is light, light powder blue, and more white than blue. The sun is just the brightest spot in the clouds, and it shimmers on all the water. There is no division between water and sky that you can see; it’s all just a shiny blur. Then the waves are white and foamy and reminiscent of childhood bubble baths.
The back and forth motion of the waves is almost like learning to swing–you’d think it would get monotonous, but it doesn’t. It’s one of, I think, many instances where monotony comforts, rather than bores. The roar of the waves is at once lovely and terrifying, reminding me of how powerful all this water really is.
And I’m back to being scared, back to looking over the water, imagining it before a storm, with the choppy, grey waves and the unutterable deepness that has no emotion. I realize how I personify Nature with happy or benevolent qualities at times, and other times, recoil at its deadly, impersonal character. I realize how easy it is to worship the created instead of the Creator. I worship what I see, over what I don’t see, even if it is the Unseen that the creation is really roaring about in the first place. The variety of colors that i could never find words for and that thousands of artists have never captured, even with the millions of sunsets that have been painted–I realize that there is a Mind behind that awesome creativity. An Artist who thought of beauty and spoke life into being.
I’m in awe, and I’m back to being scared. That unutterable deepness of the ocean is nothing compared to the power of my God. I can’t comprehend this. I’m learning that it is very possible to love and fear a thing–knowing that it is the powerful aspect that instills fear that also inspires love. The ocean is beautiful because it is so much bigger than I am, and it’s uncomfortable for the same reason. Perhaps my relation to God is similar, but I would be wrong to equate the two things, I think.
I would be foolish to worship the ocean for its beauty, because it is, like me, a created thing. It is impersonal and constantly changing. At its best, it is only a reflection of its creator.
All of the imagination, intelligence, and power is the Creator’s,and so all of our admiration and worship ought to go to Him. Being inspired by pictures of what He’s like, we ought to worship the real thing, not worship the picture.
Bus rides afford quite a long time to think. Thanks for reading, friend:)