Here we are, returning to the sea again. I wonder whether the reason I feel such an affinity with R.S. Thomas is because he is such a sea-infused poet? In today’s poem I can almost hear the drag of the shingle beneath the wave’s surface, the advancing and receeding roar of it.
This movement of waves and tides is an interesting metaphor for prayer. So many of the metaphors we use about faith, of building, growing, harvesting, etc, are all about increase. But the sea, never still, moves differently to that. Instead the rising and falling of the waves and tides are part of its natural rhythm. There is no increase without decrease, no rushing in without a corresponding withdrawal. Perhaps this is a healthier metaphor for prayer. Certainly in my own prayer life the rhythm of movement, of increase and decrease, is not one of continual growth. I doubt I am alone in that. There are periods of fruitfulness and of dryness, or perhaps rising and falling tides are a better metaphor.
A falling tide is no failure. Nor is it merely preparation for the next rising. It is in itself a part of the cycle of the sea’s continuous movement. Nor is a receeding wave a lack – it is part of what waves do. I wonder how our relationship with ourselves, with our prayer life, with God, would change if we applied that metaphor to the receeding, falling part of prayer? Not failure or lack, but part of the nature of the thing, part of our nature, known, held and loved by God.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.