Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fearsome Creatures

I love looking at the ocean, biking by the ocean, painting the ocean, listening to the ocean, collecting shells by the ocean...I love everything about the ocean except getting *in* the ocean. Fearsome creatures live in the ocean, and I am just too aware of how fearsome they are. However, the ocean was very inviting yesterday, so while Asherel was happily bobbing on the waves, I grabbed one of our boogie boards, and started bravely into the ocean. I was careful to keep our family nowhere near the fisherman down shore who had been hauling in some very large creature for two hours and it was still fighting him.

I felt like Lewis and Clark, braving this vast new frontier as I dipped one toe in the ocean. I took a full 3 or 4 steps when I glanced down. There, a few inches from me was a 2-3 foot stingray swimming by. I hurried out of the ocean. I glanced at my husband and daughter, in much deeper water, and prayed that God would keep the fearsome creatures away from them.

We saw a commotion and the fishing pole had been handed off to a strong looking woman. The group of fisherman and fisherwoman began straining and pulling and slowly moving backwards towards shore. It appeared that whatever enormous creature they had snagged two hours ago was tiring. A crowd gathered on the beach. Asherel, Arvo, and I raced over. We had watched the entire saga and were very curious to see what she had hooked.

Finally with the help of all four of them, they hauled in a 75 pound sting ray. It was whipping its long tail furiously and glaring at them with its beady eyes, and flapping its kite like body in a fury in the shallow water. The fisherwoman, who had fought the last half hour of the battle rubbed her arms. They all posed for pictures, then cut the line and dragged the creature back out to the ocean where they released him again.

I had always known despicably dangerous creatures live in the ocean. Yet I have been to the ocean for 17 years now, one week each year, and we have not once heard of or seen any human being with any worse confrontation than jellyfish stings (my poor kids all managed to snag some of those.) It is clear that for the most part, the creatures don't want to tangle with the humans, and leave them alone. I am certain there is a greater risk of choking on a chicken bone than of being attacked by a 75 foot stingray. Life with all the risks it entails we willingly accept each day. We drive cars, we eat large chunks of food that could clog our esophagus, we cross streets with maniacs at the wheel texting and driving, we wear tall heels that threaten to topple us, we ride in airplanes which are much heavier than air, and we listen to loud music that will rupture our eardrums one day. The risks we embrace are far more likely to fell us than those fearsome ocean creatures.

And the greatest risk of all, many of us completely ignore. We act as though there is no One watching, no One recording, no One noticing as we do prideful, angry, lustful, inconsiderate, immoral things. We tell "white lies", we are unkind to our family, we lose our temper with our spouses, we yell at our children, we pass mangy lost dogs and expect someone else to help them.... the list goes on and on and on. And worst of all, we forget, snub, and disbelieve that the God who gave us life is worthy of our time, our energy, our relationship. We ignore Him and hope that like the fearsome creatures that we know are out there, He will not bother us. And we behave as if there is no consequence, no reason to behave any differently. Of course, when it catches up to us, we rail against how unjust and unfair the world is and we refuse to believe in a God that would allow such suffering to befall us.

After an hour and no one seemed to be dying from stingrays, I picked up the boogie board again.
"I'm going in," I announced to my husband.
I quickly shuffled in about 3 feet from shore, put the boogie board down on a little wave and rode it in to the safety of the sand, with just a tinge of fear.
"Hooray!" I yelled, and returned to his side.
"That's it?" he asked, "You're done?"
"Baby steps, sometimes you have to do what needs doing one step at a time."

Jeremiah 24:6-7 (NIV)
My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. [7] I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

-save a dog- hollowcreekfarm.org


  1. Oh you are so like me! However, I don't swim so I don't even stand in the water more than my ankles. My husband, 16 yr old daughter, son and his wife and daughters are all going to a place called Emerald Isle NC in Aug. Our first time below Ocean city Md. so we're excited. I will be watching the fun from the safety of my sand chair. Maybe I'll go out 3' in the water and write to you about it. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. haha! I hope you have a wonderful time. I really do love the ocean, but it is NOT relaxing when my family is in it. I sit on my chair and scan the horizon for fins. I have memorized the difference between shark fins and dolphin fins, so that I yell the proper alert.....

    2. Ha! Many years ago, at Assateague Va my son, about 8 was in the water and I saw fins. I yelled for him to come in (in front of many people) that I saw sharks. He wasn't happy but did come in, grumbling, and about then I saw the "sharks" jump out of the water. :( Boy did I get laughed at. They still laugh about that and have pics of the "sharks". I have no idea how to tell the difference. I'm glad you're having a good time and good weather. Enjoy!

    3. dolphin fins curve back, shark fins are straight sided triangles. Dolphin fins tend to be seen as the dolphin curves his back up to take a breath and then go back under. Shark fins tend to stay on a level plane since they would not be surfacing for air. Any other emergency awareness you need, I am your go to worrier.