Friday, July 24, 2009

Rays, Part Two

It was the final day of our stay in Bermuda, and I was taking a little bit of time to pray.

Praying from a balcony on the twelfth deck of a cruise ship probably doesn't qualify me for membership in the Desert Fathers Monastic Ascetic Club. I hadn't spent the last 40 days sitting atop a pole. I wasn't wearing a hairshirt. Locusts had not been an option at the buffet that afternoon.

I was taking my usual approach to praying, meaning that rather than trying to come up with a nice little list of things I want God to do for me, I just tried to stop thinking and wanting and grasping for a while. As I did that, I looked out across the water of the King's Wharf Harbor, and...well...just looked at it.

It was late in the day, and the rays of light from the afternoon sun played like ten thousand fiery jewels across the surface of the sheltered water. The wind stirred and folded the water into ripples and whorls, and the sun shattered itself again and again across that stirring surface. It was so very simple, just the interplay of three basic elements in a tiny patch of creation. Yet it was also infinitely complex, as the patterns of sun-dapple shifted and changed on the waves in ways that were both logical and unpredictable.

As I contemplated it, I felt a strong sense of the interconnectedness of wind and air and light, how each one moved according to its connection to the other, and how each connection was both simple and almost unfathomably complex. Modeling even simple fluid dynamics is something that gives physicists headaches, and yet here it was before me.

The elegance of the dance between water and air and sun seemed, at that moment, just impossibly marvelous. These mindless things seemed so paradoxically mindful of their place, and of their relationship to one another.

If only human beings could move with such consistent grace.