Sometimes I dream of life as a walk along the sea shore. There I am, trudging along the line where land and sea blend into one; the sand pulled reluctantly beneath the belly of the ocean crashing down upon it. My feet are warm, basking in the sunlight beating down upon them. Warm, and then cooler. The waves lap across them, playful, unsure of their permission to cover my feet.
Footprints. Mine are alone. I used to travel with others. Once, a long time ago, I traveled with God. Or so I thought. There he would be, beside me. Sharing in my joy, my fears, my hopes, my anxieties. Now? Nothing. God is nowhere. Some people look back on their footprints in the sand, and they see both sets of prints. Theirs, and those of our Lord. I look back, and I know I can see mine. I’m not sure about God’s, though.
They say that the times when there are only one set of footprints are the times that God was carrying you. Well, if God has been carrying me, then why are my feet so tired? Why are my soles so weary and heavy laden? Why do my toes ache? Why are my legs toughened from hours of trudging through thick gluey sand?
The golden sand I left long ago. Now it is muddy, grimy, grey, dark sand. Sand that swallows you up when you stand still for too long. Sand that engulfs and overpowers you. Sand that you have to be light-footed on, keeping a bare minimum of contact with the reality below your feet in order to keep going. I miss the golden sand. I miss flinging my arms into the air carefree. I miss hearing the voice of God in the wind and the waves. I miss hearing the voice of God in the calm and quiet rhythm of the ocean.
It’s funny how the sand is so much nicer further from the ocean. Further from danger, further from the tantalising, tempting lure of the deep blue. Perhaps I should walk further ashore, where the sand is always golden, where the sun it seems always shines, where the wind is not quite so chilling.
Somehow that doesn’t satisfy. There’s something in these waves. Something calling out to me. Something asking me to join them. Something within me that calls out back and declares my allegiance – I am of this ocean. I will not steer clear of the danger, of the mystery, of the paradox of the ocean; calming yet immeasurably powerful. Graceful yet ferocious. Somehow, I know the risks, I know about the pull of the tides and the floors beyond my depths – yet I still crave to be there.
One day, perhaps, I will ride the waves. I will know what it is to be out of depth, to swim where perhaps even sharks and jellyfish make their claim to home. One day, I will go deeper. I will catch the crests of the rolling barrels of water as they make their way towards the shore. And I will be at peace.
For now, I walk along the sea shore. I look over my shoulder and I remind myself that way back there, around that corner, beyond that cliff – there were two sets of footprints. I’m sure of it. Unless I’ve gone mad in this heat. No. I’m sure of it. I wonder to myself where that second pair has gone. They aren’t carrying me. I think perhaps they left a while back.
I think they went for a swim.
They’re beckoning me now.
Maybe I’ll join them.