Are you one of those people who can’t get enough of the beach? I have been since I was lucky enough to grow up a few blocks from the ocean.
Now, whenever I can possibly manage it, I get myself down to the seashore, and if I can’t go physically, I journey there in my mind. So today I’m sitting in my paradise on soft pearl-colored sand, spellbound by the magnificent turquoise ocean. The soothing warm rays of the sun and the rhythm of the hypnotic surf de-stresses me as the salty sea mist refreshes my face. With any luck, I’ll soon spy some happy dolphins playing. Looking out on this massive body of water that seems to go on forever is such a liberating feeling. The sea makes me feel grateful and humble, and I realize that I’m just a drop in this mighty ocean of life, with so much to learn.
In the stirring and eloquent writings of the Baha’i Faith, there are a myriad quotes on the majesty and spiritual symbolism of the sea. As I look out at the ocean’s grandeur, many of them come to mind and take on new meaning:
Verily, divine bestowals are like the sea, and we are the fishes of that sea. The fishes must not look at themselves; they must behold the ocean, which is vast and wonderful. Provision for the sustenance of all is in this ocean; therefore, the divine bounties encompass all, and love eternal shines upon all. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 131.
When a drop draws help from the ocean, it is an ocean in itself. Therefore do not consider thy capacity and merit, but rely upon the infinite Bounty and trust to His Highness the Almighty. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, Volume 3, p. 565.
Wherefore, O ye beloved of the Lord, bestir yourselves, do all in your power to be as one, to live in peace, each with the others: for ye are all the drops from but one ocean. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 280.
Many months later, I am able to return to the ocean. However, this time the skies are gray and cloudy. Foreboding waves crash angrily upon the shoreline. As rain begins to pour down, the ocean turns dark and menacing. The wind whips my hair into my face and I cover myself with my jacket’s hood. Even though the ocean is ominous, I am ever in awe of the expansive changing water and the powerful surf. These dark days have lessons to teach as well as the bright ones. This storm will pass, and when it does it will leave the air crisp and fresh once again. When that happens I will appreciate the bright cheerful sun, turquoise water, and blue skies all the more.
O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightning flashes, the thunder roars, the bolt descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 395.
Thoughts are a boundless sea, and the effects and varying conditions of existence are as the separate forms and individual limits of the waves; not until the sea boils up will the waves rise and scatter their pearls of knowledge on the shore of life. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 109-110.
It’s a year later, the storm has long since passed, and I’m making my homecoming back to the sea once more. The sun shines brilliantly again, the sky blue and the water sparkling. Hearing sweet laughter, I look down the shoreline. I see a precocious toddler walking with her mother. At once, she bravely breaks free from her mother’s hand and bounces down to the shore. Following closely, the mother allows the child her freedom. Stubby little toes hit the cool water and I hear squeals of delight echo down the beach like a happy song. I giggle as the child quickly turns around and runs back into her mother’s loving arms, sharing this great adventure with her. The seagulls swoop down from above to witness the joyful event and partake in the excitement. Again and again, the child scampers down to the water line, each time more courageously than before, and each time, the squeal of glee pierces my heart with absolute bliss.
I feel utterly connected to this tiny one and her mother in love, after all, we are all the waves of one sea:
Become as the waves of one ocean, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one rose-garden, the trees of one orchard, the grains of one harvest and the plants of one meadow. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 490.
The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 180.
I open my eyes. Now I am home again lying in bed at dawn. The ocean is no longer in front of me. The little toddler and her mother have long since gone. I no longer hear the birds or feel the warm sand between my toes. There is no storm, crashing waves nor menacing skies either, for these are only memories. But no matter, because the remembrance of the sea and all its lessons are embedded in my soul. The ocean is still there, abiding and present as God’s love. The birds are still singing, the dolphins playing and perhaps another child is cooing as she feels the ocean’s cool water kiss her feet.
When I open the pages of the Baha’i writings I can return whenever I wish. With all its mystical lessons and metaphors of the sea, I am sure to find my way back home. All I have to do is close my eyes, open my heart, and turn to God.