My grandad took his final journey back to the great sea this week. He died peacefully after a long and
Strangely I went to bed last Sunday night with rivers on my mind. Something inside of me was calling me to explore the subject this week. Sometime over the next 24hours this moved to the sea. I went to bed on Monday night thinking of the sea, as I did my grandad slipped into his final sleep, no doubt dreaming of the ocean. The sea has been calling me again. I now understand why.
Marry the Sea
Now of course the sea is fed from many sources. All rivers lead eventually back to the sea. They all return back to the source. They go on many different adventures but eventually they return to the source from whence the journey, before the journey, began. Each river is formed from many tributaries, no two are exactly alike. No two go on exactly the same journey back to the sea. Just as no two people are exactly alike. We too are formed from many sources and our lives didn’t just begin when we first tasted the air as we were pushed out into the light. Who we are is part of the lives of those we have come from, going back through the generations.
These last few weeks I have paused to think a lot about family, both blood and not blood. I’ve been thinking about where my physical life grew from, the roots that formed me and the journey that has shaped who I am today. I’ve also been thinking of the rivers that could have potentially joined with me on the way. I have yet to be absorbed into another river, maybe I never will. Maybe it is my destiny to always journey alone until I reach the Great Sea and begin the next voyage. Maybe, maybe not.
The yearning for belonging is not all that is there though, there is also a desire to maintain our independence our individuality. This causes tension at times; I sense this tension in the lives of most us. Where does this come from? Well I suspect that it comes from our own souls. We are each of us unique individuals. No two people are exactly alike. Even identical twins have their own personality and can be vastly different. The same applies for conjoined twins by the way. No one feels exactly as another feels, no one thinks exactly as another thinks, no one knows exactly what is going on inside the heart of another human being. Each life is uniquely beautiful and yet we are all formed from the same source and have the same breath of life flowing through us. It is vital to recognise both aspects of our humanity and to rejoice and celebrate them. I believe that it is both aspects that compel us to be drawn together to seek out wholeness beyond the confines and limits of ourselves. It is this drive that creates this need to belong. It is this impulse that creates family; it is this impulse that creates community; it is this impulse that compels us to search beyond the limits of our own lives.
The building of family and community is becoming more and more difficult in our age. Increasingly we live isolating and isolated lives. Families move far apart and communities are increasingly fragmented. We want freedom and more of it. There is nothing wrong with this, but I wonder sometimes if by reaching for more freedom we have somehow lost some of the love that truly binds people. Now please do not get me wrong I am not living under the delusion of some golden age of community, much of which was merely tribalism. It is just that I have this sense that somewhere love has been obscured by the drive for personal freedom. While freedom in many ways is about self love, it is not necessarily about relational love in its many forms. Do people truly bind together as we once did?
I am not convinced by the post-modernist claims by the way. I believe we can come together, but not necessarily in the old tribal and exclusivist ways. Perhaps we can come together and join together from our own tributaries.
I am a Universalist by temperament. I believe that there are truths that can be discovered through many sources. I also do not accept that anyone has the whole picture when it comes to truth, whether informed by religion or the secular world. As I have written many times I hold a deep affection for the writings of Forrest Church, particular his beautiful metaphor the “Cathedral of the World”.
Both Matthew Fox and Forrest Church seem to be in harmony with one another in what one describes as deep ecumenism and the other Universalism. Their thoughts are echoed by the work of Karen Armstrong who talks about what she describes as the essence of all the great faiths,"The Golden Rule of Compassion”.
This image of the tributaries flowing into the rivers and eventually back to the sea that can bring us together, speaks powerfully to me. Whatever source we drink from we only sample a tiny amount of what is available to us. While our need to remain unique and individual may keep us from returning to the sea, our need to find family, community, a place where we all belong will keep on drawing us back. Love in the end is a stronger force that the pulse for freedom, or at least it seems that way to me. Humility also draws us together as it feeds in us a need to seek out new truth. It opens us up to new revelation from all sources of life including one another.
So why has the sea been calling me again? I don’t suppose I will get a full answer. Is it something to do with the love I felt for my granddad? Is it a sense to return home to be closer to those who have created and formed me? Well that has certainly been strong within me in recent weeks and months. Is it a call to a new adventure either within or without, a call to seek out new truth? The honest answer is I do not fully know. All I can tell you is that it feels very strong right now. I also know that it humbles me and as a result it opens me up in faith, it does not close me down in fear. I trust it I know it we lead me back to source, the eternal source. It will lead me back to love.
For all rivers eventually become part of the one sea