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See Our Sea

posted publicly Jan 2013

What follows is a written description of my memory of an experience I had in the late ’80’s, when I was an undergrad student at The King’s College in Edmonton. I was at my home desk, after the kids were in bed, intending to work on a paper that was due. However, my thoughts kept turning to a few conversations about the CRC I had recently been part of and as I mused about them and about those initials, I playfully formed the words See Our Sea in my head, and I went somewhere in my mind’s eye…

I suddenly had a peaceful sense of hovering above the surface of a very large body of calm, gently undulating water as the sun was setting. As the sun appeared to drop below the surface of the sea, my viewpoint descended below the surface as well.

What I saw there was a glimmering school of fish, schooled in the way only fish and birds seem to be capable, moving this way and that in unison, as if commanded to turn by a voice they all heard and obeyed simultaneously. This behaviour went on peacefully for a while, and was soothing and captivating to watch.

But then, once in a while, one of the fish would break away, rush to the surface, break through, jump, and splash back into the water a small distance away and leave the group to swim out of sight. This was puzzling to see.

Occasionally other varieties of fish would swim near the school and a few from the main school would come over to them, stopping abruptly at what seemed a predetermined distance. By exemplary movements they seemed to want to persuade the visitors to rush to the surface, break through, and join their ranks. Occasionally one managed it, and joined the school, but most could not understand how to make the leap, or could not be persuaded to do it. It all didn’t make much sense, but was fascinating to watch.

Then, one of the fish who had left earlier returned, with a new group of slightly different looking fish following. That one fish that had returned would demonstrate the rush to the surface, the leap, and the joining of the established school. At that point I realized the ‘escaping’ ones had been sent as ‘fishers’ (playfully one might say fishionaries).

After a time of eb and flow of such activities, some of which I did not understand, I felt myself beginning to rise again. I noticed the sun on the horizon was rising at the same pace I was, just as we had descended together. When my eyes broke the surface, I saw that the surface was rippled and disturbed where it had been tranquil before. Then, right where the disturbance was greatest, a large rectangular block of the sea started rising just in front of me. It rose a little slower than the sun and I.

As it rose, I realized immediately that the school of fish had been confined all along in a glass aquarium that had been invisible under water. Suddenly their earlier surfacing behaviours made more sense. They were breaking out of boundaries.

The rectangle slowly rose until its base was sitting at the surface. A large hand was holding it up. From experience with aquarium keeping, I knew that lifting it like that had taken tremendous effort, and thus was an important action. I somehow knew the hand was God’s, and that this was a loving, difficult, and necessary act.

I could see that the fish in the tank were quite agitated, scurrying like vermin caught when the light is turned on. There was no order to their movements anymore. Most  were trying to go hide behind others or dive deeper through the bottom that was on the surface.

Another of God’s hands came and touched one of the top corners of the rectangle of water, and the whole block gave way, sending fish and water spilling into the sea.

A voice said “Go… Go, make disciples … (which I playfully heard as fish-ciples)”

***

I refer to this scenario as “See Our Sea” or “Keepers of the Aquarium or Fishionaries?” “See Our Sea” is the last ‘normal’ thought I remember having before seeing all this all unfold. The title “See Our Sea” results from playing with our denominational acronym C.R.C. Before this event happened to me, I had been reflecting with fascination on the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and I had also been reflecting on a discussion earlier that day about what we referred to as ‘maintenance’ ministry in maintenance churches.

I had this experience almost 30 years ago. I didn’t (and don’t) know exactly what to make of it. Was it God showing me something? Or is it just my imagination and my agenda speaking? I don’t know.

 

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