20100727

My Friend the Coconut

I sit on the beach at Grand Bassam. In many ways, this is another turning point in my life. College is coming to a close. I have 17 hours left on my degree; I'm confident I know who I'm going to marry; I'm coming to grips with what is likely my last visit home. The final chapter in this season of life is beginning. So now again I ponder, just as I did in the last chapter of high school. What does the next season hold? How best should I proceed? These thoughts weigh on me during this time, and the ocean is the perfect counselor for these thoughts. Sometimes it sooths with soft splashes; sometimes it confronts with crashing crests; in all its ways, it proceeds in accordance with its Maker.

A worker, in his attempt to “clean” the beach, tossed a coconut towards the water. I watched it as it rolled down the steep Bassam beach. I wonder what it would ponder about its state of affairs if it could think. Traumatic enough must have been its tumble from its nest! No longer would it sway in the wind with its mother, or enjoy the cool shade of her branches. I doubt it would have enjoyed the change in its position. Its new home was the hot sand, sometimes like an oven in the sun, and sometimes simmering in the shade.

Maybe it was just beginning to adjust when the man tossed it. But regardless of what it wanted, it was now on a crash course with the waters of life. I watched it as it was confronted with its first, small, inbound wave. It must have been unlike anything it had experienced before. The cool water must certainly be different from the sun-baked sand. This new sensation carried the coconut back up the beach, only for both of them to roll back to the call of gravity when their momentum was exhausted.

Then what might have thus far been enjoyable turned turbulent. Now it was floating in the shallows, no longer connected to solid ground at all. Small crossing waves tossed it from side to side. Must not panic have seized the poor coconut? And so it was batted violently for a minute or two. Would this last forever?

Thankfully, that was not to be! A strong breaker careened onto the scene, casting the coconut headlong up the sloping sand. It ran aground high on the shore, and the receding water was not powerful enough to pull the coconut back to the sea. And so it found rest for at time above the swell. The waters lapped at its base occasionally, but the coconut remained beyond their reach. But just when the coconut began to feel confident and safe in its place, another powerful wave was ordained to remind it who was in charge. Dislodged, the coconut was escorted back into the ocean to be jostled about once more. Had it done anything wrong? No, this was simply the way of things.

As I have watched, this cycle has repeated itself again and again. Seasons of rest in the sands above the water were interspersed with seasons of tumultuous movement in the water. Sometimes it would land on the beach here, sometimes it would land on the beach there, all depending on where the waves carried the coconut. Sometimes I even lost sight of it as it moved hither and thither. But then I would look up from my writing and see my old friend resting not far from from where I sit. Of course it hasn't felt or thought any of these things. It is, after all, just a coconut. But I think that my friend the coconut has taught me something important about life today.

The ocean is a wonderful, beautiful, and terrible thing, as powerful as it is unpredictable. It can caress and comfort; it can empower and provide; it can tutor and teach; it most certainly cannot, however, be tamed or constrained to our will. It humbles itself before its Maker and Master alone. He holds the ocean in the palm of His hand, as He holds the coconut. So He holds life in the palm of His hand, as He holds me.

So Father, let come the battering seasons of change. Let come the refreshing seasons of rest. Only let me always remember from whom both come. Let me remember that I am but a coconut, awash in Your ocean of life.

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The Ocean's Throw

I sat on the sand, in the fading light.
The sun was sinking, setting on the right.
I stared at the ocean, so deep and blue,
The sky aglow, almost violet in hue. 

The crystal waves crashed and the ocean roared.
People were surfing on various boards.
Children were laughing, building sandcastles,
The tide, though, giving them quite a hassle.

Gradually, all departed the sea,
Leaving us alone, the ocean and me.
Problems abounded from my point of view.
At that moment, they were lost in the blue.

Problems indeed seem to become facades,
When one is caught in the glory of God!
Walking away, I learned what I now know:
Comfort can be found in the ocean’s throw.

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