As the Waters Swell the Sea

As the waters swell the sea
As the waters fill the sea . . .
Photo by Krzysztof Gorowski on Unsplash

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.


6 thoughts on “As the Waters Swell the Sea”

  1. It’s funny how words and phrases leap out at you, evoke images, touch your spirit. The readings “swell the sea” and your reflections “all-embracing as the sea” did that for me. Having grown up by the sea – the rich imagery, the sounds, the smells have all fed my spirituality. The knowledge of the Lord swelling in the hearts of all humanity, the all-embracing ‘knowing’ of God entailing the wisdom, peace and grace this implies gives me hope… a hope that grows. Thank you Sister Catherine!

  2. I think I like the sea better than mountains. Mountains have to be climbed (because they’re there?) at some cost in terms of personal effort; whereas the sea supports and lifts, bathes and erases, carries you along – yes, that can be frightening, but somehow I can more easily contemplate surrendering myself to the sea than I can to a mountain however breathtaking the view. You have to come back down the mountain don’t you? The sea will however eventually get you back to the shore. Would that I had as much joyful trust to surrender myself to the will of God as I do when surrendering myself to the waves in the sea!

    • Caroline, I live in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, so naturally feel drawn to the mountain imagery rather than that of the ocean.

      I’ve always found being in the mountains reassuring, as they are enormous and I am but a little speck in their midst. They point to the fact God is far greater than I can ever comprehend, and if He is capable of creating something as beautiful and awe inspiring as mountain ranges then I can certainly leave my worries and my little self in His care. And no, I’m not a climber, just an admirer.

      Isn’t it marvelous how God speaks to each of us differently, as individuals, in ways that touch our hearts and souls?

      • Thank you – and yes, God is quite marvellous. Today our churches have been allowed to reopen subject to the strict Government decreed social-distancing, sanitising, swabbing down etc etc rules and I was down to steward by happy chance at what we had assumed was going to be a moment of private prayer. It was wonderful to be back. I hope things in Canada are going all right? God Bless you and yours – enjoy the view of “your” mountains! 🙂

  3. So, so beautiful.As I read your post. I could hear the sound of the waves, feel the sand and pebbles under my feet, look up at that beautiful sunset, and know that God is in His Heaven. Thank you dear Sister

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