09 Nov Spirit of the Ocean: Sunday Swims as Sacred Sport
I wake to the call of the waves and the expectancy of a sea of people surrounding a large palm tree on the seventh day of the week, traditionally celebrated as Sabbath. I find my feet on the ground, scurrying to gather my swim stuff: goggles, a two-piece, sunscreen, and a bright yellow cap. Still half asleep, I step out of my car and stroll down the hill to find my swim friends and await our simultaneous walking on water.
So many here reflect the modernity of miracles. A number of us survivors of all sorts of things. Together, we celebrate the days still gifted to us in creative certainty by submerging into the intimate, icy depths of the mysterious and momentous ocean. Every Sunday, we repeat this sacred ritual as congregants of Ocean Church. It’s free to attend. Donations are accepted, and coffee and donuts delighted in after every swim.
Solidarity subsumes us as the chill of the liquid glass encapsulates our ankles and asks our skin to be a little braver for an hour while we glide through the wake and waves of the whistling water. We trust we’ll adjust as the breakers break through us, inviting us to open more fully. To live more freely. To delight in the soft and strong whitewash before us—or dive deeper and cocoon our entire beings in the calm below the chaos.
Eventually, we find ourselves past the wave line. Our leaders position themselves in a triangular shape on floating ships to provide direction and keep us siting for safety. We naturally divide into groups defined by our skill sets—all levels given a chance for growth along our journeys in a collective communion.
Alone we might tremble in fear out here—acknowledging the vulnerability of one small person in a pool filled with currents and creatures who may believe that we belong here full-time. (We like to pretend we do, but it’s not true.) What a catastrophic compliment that they may mistake us for one of them. Together though, we enjoy the precious privilege of being one with the ocean with greater clarity. Even if just for an hour.
We watch as the water forms little mountains of glistening glow, while below the light projects back to the sky in lines so concrete, they appear to be palpable. We reach with every stroke, lengthening our potential, pulling the presence of oneness back toward ourselves, and then pushing it out again as a gift to the world.
We move mountains with our movements. We splash, we kick, we glide through the great being of conglomerated rain and remember all at once who we are, individually and collectively. And in this art, we practice weekly, seeking to experience the world as it could be. Where safety is prioritized, diversity celebrated, and ability appreciated.
This experience is a metaphor—and a necessary one right now. Like all churches, the purpose of this Sabbath celebration is to master its practice outside of the proverbial wall between the sea and the shoreline. And as we exit the water, droplets dry to form salt on our skin. Sand sticks to our ankles as we peel off wetsuits and pull back caps. We warm ourselves with towels and the touch of attire more appropriate for land. And as we do so, we’re reminded to practice the grace we receive in the water outside of it. It doesn’t want to leave us any more than we want to leave it.
We cling to each other as we learn to celebrate community when things are uncertain, beauty despite the ugliness projected through scarcities and screens, and individually surrender to the calm between the earth and the ever rumbling chaos that humanity creates.
While we can’t always control the circumstances around us, we can control the consciousness we bring to the water and how it translates to our lives on land. Our Sabbath Sundays at Ocean Church invite us in to be held in wholeness. And when we’re released once again into the world? We’re that little bit more capable of reaching our highest potential. Of intimating all we need to receive, and gifting everything we have to generate a world that reflects the way we wish it to be.
We’re all made of water. When on land, breathe deep and remember what you’re made of. Direct your eyes to the skies and recognize its blue reflection mirrors the ever-loving presence of Ocean Church. We’re always with you.
Every Sunday, we return to the palm and let it lead us to our collective resurrection. We’ll move mountains as we continue to commit to the miracles that walking on water will instill in us while living on land. Thankfully, we have our Ocean Church to experience in this micro-world—the friends we’ve found so bound to the magic of the sea and devoted to the world we’ll win together. The ocean is calling. And every week we awaken to answer it.
Now, no more of this serious business. Let’s get some coffee and donuts.