Monday, February 08, 2010

The Sea and Sky

Photo of Orion Belt with the stars Alnitak, Al...Image via Wikipedia
Days here on Maui have been warm, breezy, and blue skied - truly magical when one has escaped the clutches of winter.  Reflecting tonight on the past couple of days, I recall the morning of snorkeling at the nearby beach of Kapalua Bay.  As I wrote in my post of the "turtle sighting," we and many other beachgoers that a.m. left with an excited tale of the big green sea creature we encountered.

The big green turtle still is vivid in my mind.  As I floated near his busily-feeding armored body, he glanced briefly at me as if to say, "yes, I see you, keep your distance and both of us will be happy."  I mean, I suppose that's what he meant with the glance!  I was happy to oblige his warning and keep my distance.  Yet, thinking now, how intriguing to be in the world of the ocean as a visitor.  A visitor vastly curious about life under the water.  Aching to see turtles, exotic fish, beautiful coral and no thing more threatening than that! Oh yes, of course, one's mind cannot help but wander to the prospect of an occasional shark swimming through a is their home! 

I/we are the visitors in the world of the ocean.  We intrude, we trespass, trying to remain neutral in our actions, not polluting with garbage, not upsetting the balance of fishes by feeding fish food in order to lure up-close encounters with the teeming tropical sea life that enjoys life hidden from human sight.  It's curious to realize how the ocean teems with life  outside our  human existence. But, of course, mankind and curiosity being intertwined has not left the underworld of the sea totally to imagination.  On any given night on any tv cable channel, there's probably a feature on life underwater.  Life in its beauty, its abundance, its brutality, its balance.  We remain the intruder and are thrilled to have glimpses of "another" life on this planet other than our own.

The evening of the turtle encounter, we took a night time cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation, aptly entitled their "Star Gazing Cruise" - complete with astronomer, Harriet Witt, who had a lot to say about the sky and stars and who, with her magic laser beam, pointed out constellations, planets, bright living, and yellowing dying stars.  She spoke of the galaxies that had been identified in our time and that if we could close our eyes and imagine it, she could declare as fact, that there are hundreds of galaxies beyond our own.  She also suggested, with a nervous chuckle, that it seemed rather likely we are "not alone" in existence even though the "others" may not yet or we have not yet, made contact with each other.

As we floated basically in the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean on a calm sea, clear night, I felt there was no end to the creativity in which we live.  As hydrophones were dropped over the side of the boat, we could hear the whales singing and signaling to each other in loud, wailing, lamenting type calls.  Calls we could not hear above water.  And as we lay rocking in the sea, the sound any whale watcher will recognize came to our ears several times - the sound of the great exhalation of breath, the whoosh, the sound of a whale near our boat slipping by us, perhaps wondering what creatures of our kind were doing out in the Pacific after dark, floating, laughing, falling silent at the sound of a whoosh!

At church this a.m., during the sermon, the priest recalled an evening on Lana'i when he had driven to the very end of the small island on a clear, dark night to encounter what he could only describe as God's creation surrounding him - a sky full of stars seen as though rising from the ocean to the heavens.  Having just done our star gazing a couple of nights ago, my arms felt tiny tingles of goose bumps rise as I imagined my encounter with the world of the sea, the world of the sky, the world in which we exist.  A span so immense we don't know where the sea and the sky separate.  Am I what separates the sea from the sky - I mankind?  Will the sea and the sky some day visit my world in ways that I can not yet fathom - perhaps my soul will one day know the answer to my question.

And you, have you explored the world of the sea and the world of the night time stars and heavens?  Where were you when that happened?  Was it just fun or did you feel something so far beyond your imagination that it caught your breath?  I'd like to hear about that.............your experience of the sea and the sky.
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  1. To be out on the ocean to look up at the stars has to be like seeing poetry visually.

    I once took a whale watch tour off the coast of Massachusetts. I've never forgotten the excitement I felt to see porpoise leaping along the side of our boat and then a mother whale and her baby.

    And when I was in South Africa and climbed Table Mountain and at the top looked out to see the world below, so stunning.

    You post and my memories recall that wonderful poem in Love Poems from God that carries this line: "how does God keep from fainting / looking at Himself all day?"

  2. A beautiful post! Interlacing of sea and sky - I love this image.

    Beauty, abundance, brutality, balance. Yep, that about covers it, I'd say. Your writing here is reminiscent of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

    When I was in California a couple of summers ago I got to hang out with the sea lions for a while. That was my favorite part of the whole trip. That, and watching the half moon as the sun set at Half Moon Bay.

    And I'm back to Joe Vs. the Volcano again. Have you watched it yet? There's that scene where he's out on the ocean on a raft and the moon rises so big...ah well, I can't do it justice here.

  3. oh you can't believe the directions my mind went this morning when i read this. let's say i've had a few memorable experiences exploring the stars & heavens. one was in molokai - we would lay flat on our backs in the middle of our driveway (at risk of giant toads hopping across us) and gaze at the immensity above us. there's definitely something to being hundreds of miles away from ambient light that brings out the stars!!

    your night cruise sounds fabulous... a beautiful complement to the rest of your adventures!!! xoxooxo

    can't wait to join in :-)

  4. Maureen,
    I love your remembrance of sea and sky encounters. They ARE memorable and I believe soul strengthening to recall them!

    I too have been off the coast of Massachusetts on whale watching. Mostly I watched other passengers sick as weak puppies with the rocking boat - an experience that always reminds me to pop a dramamine before launching out on the ocean:)

    The LOVE POEMS line about God watching himself? - so true, Amen!

  5. Pollinatrix,
    Thanks for such a nice comment - I'll take the Annie Dillard compliment even for ONE sentence:)

    Encountering any creatures in the wild is such a humbling experience isn't it? I think their vulnerability (although they could kill us easily enough if they decided to - in self-defence with no regret) is what gives us the goose bumps in light of our creation gift of humanness.

    Joe and the Volcano - I think I need to put that on my Netflix list as it's one of those movies that keeps popping up in folks' recommendation lists:)


  6. Lucy,

    the astronomer on the boat suggested the lying on the grass to really get the full effect of the night time sky - maybe we should put that on our list of to do's! Everything we do, we wish you were here already:)