I was raised on the beach and lived there until I was 10. Our house was right on the beach... step out the sliding-glass door and there you are, toes in the sand. I spent hours each day watching the gulls and sandpipers, running tirelessly with my friends and the many dogs who resided there, and gazing at the ocean ceaselessly. I learned the rhythm of the seasons, when we could jump down onto the sand from a porch, run out to the waterline and explore tide-pools that had been exposed, and when the sea seemed to come nearly to our door; I fell asleep and woke to the sound of the waves, the endless breathing in and out of a body of water so vast that I couldn't really wrap my brain around it... but I didn't feel the need to.
It has been over 30 years since I lived on the beach, and it remains the place I am drawn to most, that can sooth, calm and ground me no matter how frenetic my life may seem. Sitting on a beach, watching the grey-blue-green of the ocean, brings me peace.
The other day, I found myself trying to describe how I feel that God can be both inside and outside of us, and it came to me: God is like the ocean. Every wave, every spume of spray, each tiny drop of water even - contains within it some part of all that the ocean is. It is both an independent thing unto itself, and part of the whole. Separate it out - and it remains like the ocean it came from; return it, and it is still that same drop of water, now combined with many thousands of millions of others, to form that greater whole.
I am - each of us is - a drop of the ocean that is God; an infinitesimal drop of the whole, containing all that the ocean is, within me. As a drop, I came from that ocean, came from God - and I believe that when I die, I will return to that, will "return to God". Will I maintain the spark of individual consciousness that I call my "self" once I return to that vast sea? I don't know... and conjecture as I may, I won't know until I'm there. That's just one of the mysteries I'll have to be OK with for now. /3/18/12