There seems to be a universal human impulse to flock towards large bodies of water. It’s rare, especially in the summer months, to find beaches that aren’t packed with people or coastlines that don’t boast the most prime real estate. We seem to love the ocean, in particular, or at least we love to be near enough to it to gaze upon its vastness. There’s something about these massive, seemingly endless bodies of water that calls upon something within us and draws us in. But what is this “something” in the water that holds such power over mankind?
A simple answer would be that the ocean is one of nature’s most beautiful jewels and just like we are attracted to a beautiful mountainscape or sunset, so too are we attracted to the beauty of the ocean. Of course it’s true that the ocean is beautiful, but I think it is more than just the attraction of beauty that explains our fascination with the ocean.
We flock to the sea not just to admire its beauty, but to wonder at the mystery of it. Something so large and vast as the ocean presents a reality to our minds that is impossible to fully comprehend–a mystery. And whether we are aware of it or not, we are drawn towards mystery and that which we can’t fully comprehend because we ourselves are a mystery.
It’s not just that we’re drawn to the ocean because of what it is on its own, but we’re drawn to it because of what it reflects in us and because of what we have in common with it. We share the same Creator and just as the ocean reflects and points to the greater mystery of the human person, we reflect and point to the greater mystery of God.
The interesting thing is that this impulse towards mystery and towards things in nature that are mysterious is not reserved merely for the religious person. All of us feel it, even those of us who staunchly protest the existence of God, and it’s because each one of us was created in the image and likeness of the same God, and so bears His imprint. Ironically for those who argue against the existence of God, their own existence is perhaps the most compelling objection to their argument.
God has created each one of us so perfectly in His image that even if we were to spend all our lives running from Him and denying Him, we’d probably still end up at some point standing in front of the ocean, marveling at its beauty and wondering at the mystery of it, little realizing that what we’re marveling at is the very evidence of the God we’re denying.