I stood in awe on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean two weeks ago, the first time without Webb. It was neither the beauty of the beach nor the magic of the scene that spurred my awe, but it was the fact that the ocean was still there at all. The sea was still moving, still stirring as if nothing had changed. I knew returning would be hard, and I was prepared for a myriad of emotions ranging from disappointment to despair. I was not prepared to feel surprised by the routine of the ocean’s movement. Surveying the vast canvas, this grey sheet slicing through blue sky, I did not drop my head to weep as I thought I would, but instead I tilted it in complete bewilderment.
I suppose I had assumed the ocean would wait for me to return, to ask my permission to continue to spit out waves and suck in surf. I thought I would meet a silent and still sea and then slowly raise my arms, with palms facing up in the way that a priest summons his congregation to rise. This wordless motion would be my command to the water that it was to return to its movement and work. And when my arms would rise above my shoulders, the dam would break and the seas would roar again, simply because I was ready.
But it wasn’t as I thought it would be. It turns out that the ocean did not wait for me to allow its release. In fact, Webb’s death had not stopped the waves from crashing or the current from pulling. The thought occurred to me for the first time that even on the morning that he died, these salty seas continued to spread across the beach, then slip back into the expanse, always at work, always in motion.
I watched as the ocean moved with predictability and rhythm to the silent metronome of the tides, as it has done since God first spoke it into place. I surveyed the beach, freckled with thousands of shells, miniature gravestones of the sea animals they once housed and protected. My toes dug deep into the millions of tiny grains piled on top of and beside each other, weaving a blanket of sand. It was all just as I had left it when Webb was alive. In the way that I balked at the sun that rose the morning after he died, I sighed deep realizing that the beach, too, had continued moving to life’s rhythm. His death had not silenced the seas just as it had not squelched the morning sun. Though the foundation of my earth was shaken with a force strong enough to shift the continents, the sea did not feel even the echo of a tremor. And I stood on the shore in awe of it all.
In the presence of this ocean that churns life with such power that even death cannot slow its movement, I felt quite sure that one of the grains of sand beneath my feet could easily swallow me whole. And yet while I marveled at the water as it rolled over my toes and slid back off, constant rhythm, constant life, I suddenly awoke to the truth that these waves whisper. Though the events of my life are indeed small enough to tuck into one tiny grain of sand, they are part of an infinitely bigger work of art. For the Maker of these seas hems in waters and releases waves as He raises and lowers His brush dipped in eternity’s paint. Though the hues of His strokes seem dark and bleak, the waves promise me that He is indeed, still painting. And when this canvas is one day viewed in Heaven’s light, it will shine with such beauty and bright that my knees will bow down and my tongue will praise the Creator of a perfect masterpiece. No, Webb’s death did not silence the seas, and it did not squelch the morning sun. For the one true Artist never once dropped His brush that is always at work, constant life, constant rhythm.