Do you feel small when you stand beside the ocean?
The other day I ran out to do an errand and caught a bit of a song in passing with the lyrics, “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.” (Facebook friends already know where I’m going with this, but I’ll go further here than I did there.) I reflected that this was a neat idea but didn’t quite work for me. (Of course on Facebook no-one could get past commentary on the actual song and why I was listening to country music… )
I love standing next to the ocean. I love the sense of power and bigness that it projects. I like the idea of the humility of feeling small when you stand beside the ocean… and yet I feel more than that. Because I also feel a part of something big. The ocean doesn’t just make me feel small. It makes me feel like a small part of something BIG.
This is an important reminder to us as we think about journeying as one who follows in the way of Christ. Lent can get very personal – it should be – but this doesn’t mean we are alone in our journey. A friend said to me recently, “It should be personal but not private.” We focus on our journey, but we should also recognize that our journey is interwoven with all journeys.
So a parting thought then from the Elijah story on this subject as we have looked to the portrait of faith his story give us for our own journeys: Elijah, looming large in the overall Biblical story, actually appears in only a handful of chapters of the Bible. And yet within this limited set of stories on two separate occasions (both I Kings 19 and 2 Kings 2) the story makes a point to setting up Elisha as his successor, and of the tasks he is given by the silent voice of God in 1 Kings 19 most of them are actually done by Elisha not Elijah.
Why make such a deal about passing the “mantle” (literally) from Elijah to Elisha? Perhaps it is because the story reminds us that we are but a small part of a big story. An important part to be sure – and we actually have to LIVE that part – but our part is but a piece in the puzzle. This makes us small and yet a part of something big. This is a blessing because we are not alone, and a responsibility because others are not alone only if we actually play our part.
So when you stand beside the ocean… by all means feel small. But also remember that the ocean stands beside you!