LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2013) — I’m obsessed with the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. It brings a great sense of peace, but not out of spineless acquiescence. The lyrics call for such faith, such trust. I know I don’t have that now.
I’ve always been in love with the ocean, probably because I grew up going to Lake Michigan as a child in the Chicago suburbs, and when you’re three or four or even 10 or, heck, 27, Lake Michigan might as well be an ocean. It took a while for me to figure out that every time I visited somewhere with a coastline, there was a common denominator; I actually could feel the calm descend inside my soul. I can name all the places — Vinalhaven Island off the coast of Maine, Shackleford Banks in North Carolina, Manhattan Beach in Southern California, more — where unintentionally, I have been drawn to the water and found myself at peace.
But last month when I was watching the towering waves break in Costa Del Sol, I think I realized for the first time how much that heaving, brutal water thrills yet frightens me, how much I want to be in the surf and on the sand but not too far out, not too risky. And then the other things I love came to mind, like riding horses, galloping cross-country and jumping with a 1,200-pound animal with a mind of its’ own, no problem, because everything else fades away and when you jump just right and you and your horse are in that perfect rhythm, it feels better than flying; like driving too fast because it’s fun and thank God there are no autobahns in North America; like traveling at the drop of a hat to places I’ve never been to explore cultures I know nothing about, distance never an issue, here or on another continent, wherever there’s adventure.
I do these things wholeheartedly, and I rarely think twice about the danger. I enjoy the thrill, the adrenaline rush, the experience. The risks are worth the rewards.
And then, the ocean.
The dangers. The unpredictability. The undertow. It’s easier to sit safely on the shore, at most to tiptoe like that old Counting Crows song, “along the edge of where the ocean meets the land, just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus.” But to feel the water, you have to step off the dry land, and to swim — to really swim — you have to walk into deep waters, and to set sail you have to brave the waves.
Maybe that’s why this song speaks to me right now, in this season, exactly where I’m at.