There is a line in today’s first Mass reading that has always haunted me:
They do no hurt, no harm, on all my holy mountain, for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters swell the sea.Isaiah 11.10
Sometimes it is the idea of the holy mountain that captures my imagination. More often it is the thought of the sea. No one who has grown up beside sea or ocean can ever forget its changing moods; the way the light shimmers then darkens; the sound of waves breaking on the beach and the gravelly roar as they return; that unmistakable smell and tang of salt and seaweed on the air. But it is the sea’s vastness that I love. When the first photographs of earth viewed from space showed that we do indeed live on a blue planet, I remember thinking how much God must love water and everything that lives in it to have created so much. It is a kind of benediction wrapped round the earth. I think the prophet Isaiah must have sensed something of the same. When all is made new, when the reign of God is fully established on earth, knowledge of the Lord will be as all-embracing as the sea. That is the hope to which we look forward as we continue on our way through Advent.