Again this year CrazyCris is holding an Oceanic Blog-A-Thon. Youth is the official Blog-A-Thon topic, but anything ocean-related is welcome. Given that Facebook friends Tara, Brent, and Lance all have written about the physical geography that has helped shape their lives, what better prompt than World Oceans Day to nudge me to do something similar? Just as their experiences on the land continue to influence Lance, Brent, and Tara, my early environments and the geography where I now live continue to shape me. My post for World Oceans Day 2011 tells part of my love story with the ocean; last year I mentioned some places and spaces and this year I'll say a little more about...
...sensory memories, sensuous currents
Concrete, cement, urban decay and decline were a huge part of my early years. Often in sorrow, sometimes tears, I'd walk past yet another fire-gutted building, one more boarded-up house. Yet still I could walk outside, notice it'd been raining, the ground was muddy, and the air smelled like hope. "Like hope" because carrying scents of brine and beach, a ocean breeze drifted my way. Oceans began Planet Earth's history, they've lived its history, the oceans have been there through good times, bad times, changing times, times of death, and times of resurrection: oceans "know!" In another early memory I'd stand on the pier as they offloaded fresh catches of fish. Those fish smelled strongly like stereotypical "ocean" and brought along with them hints of future feasts that would carry a sea savor in a mouthful of pan-fried fish. Even if today's not exactly wonderful, there's something new and different on the way and, in fact, a pleasure that's repeatable as long as we carefully care for the waters and oceans.
Forever whenever I've lived on the coast, walking along the beach - my feet sinking deep into wet sand, seaspray splashing onto my face, a salty tang on my tongue - brings me to where the ocean has been, and every drop of water has been everywhere. On Malibu West or Malibu East, La Jolla Shores or Anywhere Shores, I feel, experience, and learn for myself stories the ocean has lived. In any season, driving up the coast alongside the Pacific on my left or the Atlantic on my right as sunshine dances off shimmering tealish, greenish, blueish surf also helps me identify with the history of the ocean, the history of this planet. As abandoned as I feel, and as much as abandonment by humans has been too much the story of my life (sadly not unique to me), the ocean assures me I belong to history and I am not alone.
Whether driving or walking, biking or riding the AmTrak (a new and recent experience!) up the shore, a classic roar of waves breaking at high tide or during a storm, a noisy raucous seagull symphony fills my entire being and assures me there is something greater than and more than myself. Water is the womb of earth's creation; water is the womb of our first creation and of our recreation in baptism. In baptism we identify with this planet's history and with salvation history. The story of the people of God ranges from deeps of the first creation, to Noah's flood, to water splashing from the exodus rock, to the river that bounded the promised land, the river where John baptized Jesus, to rivers of the new creation with countless instances of healing, reviving, salvific streams in between. After all these years I still feel home in the cement, concrete, even in the decay and sometimes decline of the inner city, but those ocean waters own me in ways no human-constructed environment can, and I belong—you belong. We belong!
Saturday, 09 June: CrazyCris is back! And here's her official Oceanic Blog-A-Thon post. This post already has had a lot of visitors but I'll repost on Facebook and retweet, too; most likely there will be more blogs in the thon over the next few days, so please visit Cris!