An ancient tale conveys the story of two fish swimming side-by-side in the ocean.
One fish says to the other, “Hey, what do you think about this beautiful blue water?”
The other replies, “What water?”
“The water you’re swimming in.”
This story is a metaphor for our relationship with the Divine. Like the ocean water that surrounds the fish and swirls through their gills, God’s Spirit surrounds us. It flows through our lungs as the Holy Spirit’s breath, holding, guiding, and sustaining us.
We are swimming in the Ocean of Divine Embrace. Our task is to become aware of it and ground ourselves in the natural life-giving relationship we have with God.
In An Ocean of Light, Martin Laird says we often experience life like the fish who didn’t realize he was in the ocean. Our cluttered minds obscure our understanding about ourselves and God. We search endlessly for something or someone outside of ourselves, hoping whatever “it” is will keep us safe and secure, and let us know we are loved.
But like the fish in the ocean, there’s nothing we need do to be held in God’s love. We’re surrounded by the Divine Embrace, swimming in an Ocean of Light. We simply awaken to its Presence allowing ourselves to be nourished by the Spirit of God that flows in and through our lungs, sustaining and guiding us.
What if we practiced becoming like the “awakened fish” and realized we’re surrounded by a beautiful Ocean of Divine Embrace?
We could stop trying to “get there” and realize we’re already “there.” We’re surrounded by a cloud of wisdom and compassion that feeds and guides us. God is our Center as we swim in Divine water.
Laird suggests practicing daily meditation to awaken to this Divine Presence. Sitting in silence for twenty to thirty minutes each day, grounding ourselves with a simple word or phrase such as love, peace, be still, or God is my Center quiets our minds and reconnects us with our souls.
This simple practice creates a receptive heart. Over time, it softens the mind, unclutters our thoughts, and anchors us with the depth and breadth of God’s Infinite Love and Wisdom.
In 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, addressed the Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome with these words:
“To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It [contemplation] is a deeply revolutionary matter.”
I wonder if Laird, Dr. Williams, and the awakened fish are onto something. Could the Holy Spirit be inviting us to rekindle the ancient revolutionary practice of daily quiet time and meditation so we realize we’re swimming in the Ocean of Divine Embrace?
Practice: Find Your Center. Go to your quiet space, click on this Centering Prayer link, breathe softly, be still, and experience Presence.
—brian j plachta