One of my friends from Charlotte has a knack sending emails with the right word at the right time. In this case, it was a link to a YouTube video, “Look at the World,” composed by John Rutter. If you’ve ever sung in a high school or church choir you’ve undoubtedly performed one of his compositions. I’d never heard this song before, but was immediately struck by the beauty of the music and the visuals that accompany that music. It begins with ocean animals, whales breaching and spinner dolphins spinning, and momentarily took me back to Maui.
It just so happens that I’d been thinking a lot about whales for the past week after a conversation in spiritual direction. The subject came up in a spiritual direction meeting, in which a directee and I were talking about the pure gift of God’s presence. My mind immediately flashed to Maui and spotting North Pacific humpback whales. These whales spend the summer in the waters off of Alaska, and return to Hawaii late in the fall every year – a 3,000-mile journey that takes anywhere from 4 – 6 weeks. They spend the winter in the warm waters between islands, where they mate and then give birth a year later in the same waters.
You can sit on the beach in Maui, and spot them. The seeing is an interesting visual exercise. You can’t look at one spot, focused on any particular area. Instead, you need to have what I think of as a soft or gentle gaze, not one of intensity, but one of easy attention. Suddenly, something catches your eye. You’ll see a spout of water, or a head emerge, then a breach and the huge splash of tail hitting the water. Often, you’ll see several whales together, and sometimes spot a calf.
The image and memories of seeing whales has stayed with me, in part because this Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. I imagine that experiencing that event was a bit like whale watching. You can put yourself in the right position, but you can’t make whales, or God, show up. That is pure gift, holy, and wholly transient.
The video link is below, and it is now in my save folder. I hope to watch it often in the days to come for it is full of joy and hope and abandonment into the hands of God.
“A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) Thank you, friend, for you, with God’s gifts, made my day! ~ Anne
These meditations are provided as a ministry in this time of pandemic as a ministry of St. Paul’s U. C. C.