Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, tells the story of the little ocean fish who is swimming frantically and looking for “the ocean”. He eventually meets a wise, older fish and they talk.
“Excuse me,” said the little ocean fish. “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find this thing they call the Ocean?”
“The Ocean,” said the older fish, “is the thing you are in now.”
“Oh, this? But this is water. What I’m seeking is the Ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.
Stop searching, little fish. There isn’t anything to look FOR….all you have to do is LOOK.
Let us open our sails to the wind of the Holy Spirit without knowing on what shores we land.
Lately I feel like I’m always looking for something….my keys, the best color to paint our living room, peace of mind in a country full of people with opinions on politics, etc. Like the little fish, I’m not very good at just looking, at being aware of God’s presence in all things. God isn’t out of reach or hidden….He is here in all aspects of our lives.
Over the weekend Chi-Chi and I visited Camp Hope, the Moravian camp of the Eastern District in Hope, New Jersey. As we stood by the lake at the vesper site, I didn’t have to look for God; it’s so simple to feel His presence in places of such natural beauty. So why is it so hard to remember to just look every day, no matter where we are?
Of course when I think about taking time to look, the passage from Psalm 46 comes to mind: “Be still, and know that I am God.” That’s always been a favorite. Lo and behold, when I searched for commentary on the verse, I discovered that the “Be still” is a call for the people who are involved in a war to stop fighting. The commentary says, “The word still is a translation of the Hebrew word rapa, meaning ‘to slacken, let down, or cease.’ Christians often interpret the command to ‘be still’ as ‘to be quiet in God’s presence.’ While quietness is certainly helpful, the phrase means to stop frantic activity, to let down, and to be still. For God’s people being ‘still’ would involve looking to the Lord for their help.”
Ah. To stop frantic activity. Like the little fish swimming trying to find the ocean. To not look for something, but to simply look. AND to look to the Lord for help.
On Sunday Chi-Chi and I had the pleasure of worshiping at Emmaus Moravian Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and we arrived as the kids were getting out of Sunday School. A little girl had made an arrangement of tulips out of egg carton cups; they were freshly painted and she had cotton ball, glitter, and pink paint all over herself. She ran up to her mom so enthusiastically and exclaimed, “Mommy; look!” Her mom responded, “Oh honey, they’re beautiful!” with a huge smile.
I’ll admit; I had a moment. The little girl was so excited and her mother shared her daughter’s joy so easily. It was a special moment to witness, and I was acutely aware of God’s presence. By just looking.
What happens when you let down, cease, be still, and look, and how will you express your gratitude for what you see?