Rumors of My Demise

Last week I got a startling phone call from a friend, laughing about the fact that I was alive and kicking. Evidently, he had just received an inquiry from a cousin in a neighbouring town about my demise. What!

The newspaper in that town, the Peterborough Examiner, had printed a long and glowing obituary about my writing career. My photograph accompanied the piece.

In the next day or two, both our church office and my son-in-law received calls about my passing.

However, the gentleman they eulogized was not me, Eric E. Wright, but Eric Wright a mystery writer from Toronto who has written a series of books featuring a Toronto policeman.

Oh, the ignominy, or pale glory, of living under the shadow of a popular anderic-fall2 well-known personality. Just the month before, as has often happened, shoppers at a book fair had assumed I was that mystery writer. “Didn’t we see a review of your books in the Toronto paper?” Sadly, no.

Occasionally, I’ve been tempted to enjoy his reflected popularity. In the summer I received an email informing me that I had been the honoured recipient of an award for lifetime achievement–only the second time that award had been granted. For ten seconds I thought, how wonderful! Then I realized it was my nemesis. Augh! I immediately sent back an email declining the honour.

At other times the confusion has been scary. Years ago our bank called up one morning to inform us that we were thousands of dollars overdrawn in our US account. After our initial shock, we realized that it was our most worthy colleague. Fortunately, the bank rather quickly back-peddled when they realized it was the other Eric Wright charging a rather expensive Caribbean vacation to his account.

About the obituary; I phoned the editor and explained the confusion. He profusely apologized for this serious error. Evidently, when they accepted the article from one of their stringers, they just went to their huge online catalogue of pictures and picked an Eric Wright photo. They had actually, printed a review of one of my books in the past. As a consequence of their error, the editor promised to print a retraction with some reference to my ten published books and a link to my web site.

Book collageFinally, I may come out from under the shadow of my nemesis and get some publicity. Mind you, I’m not going to hold my breath—but it could happen. At least I’m in good company. Wasn’t it Hemmingway who said, “The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated?”

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1   LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

God’s Autumn Masterpiece

Many in our northern latitudes find autumn their favorite season. For a couple of months the countryside exchanges a large part of its green wardrobe for gowns displaying a profusion of colours.

The countryside is a giant canvas. The Divine Artist is gradually painting it with a subtle shade here and a splash of color there. As the weeks pass, the mural becomes more and more vibrant.

Even plants like the sumac, that some consider a nuisance, get in on the act. As if afraid to be overshadowed by the scarlet frocks that towering maples don later inSumac the season, the sumac heralds its place in this drama by dyeing the fringes of the roads and fields with crimson.

Next come the stalwart ash, first displaying subtle shades of beige and rust before donning brilliant gowns of plum and wine.

The leaves of beech and oak, which often cling to their branches throughout the Trembling Aspenwinter, paint their trees with hues of fawn and brown and taupe that gradually turn to gold.

Part way through this seasonal drama, the Divine Tailor stitches up a gown for the aspens and poplars composed of a dozen shades of yellow–flaxen, lemon, saffron, amber. All in preparation for their autumn dance.

Cobourg ColourMeanwhile the Artist on High has been tinting the maples, most dramatic of the trees, with every colour in His palate from lemon yellow to bright orange and scarlet.

Throughout the fall, pine, cedar and spruce maintain a background of rich green to set off the multi-hued pigments of autumn that wash the fields and woodlands with bright color.

As the season develops, commentators keep us abreast of where and wOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhen to visit our woodlands to catch a glimpse of this yearly display. And so, throughout Eastern North America, city dwellers abandon their grey city haunts to tour the lakes and forests of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ontario, and Quebec.

The wind blows and the leaves begin to fall leaving windrows of fading colour all OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalong the verges of field and roadway. No human artist can hope to best the skill of the Divine Artist. And this yearly exhibition is free for any to enjoy. No wonder many view autumn as their favorite time of the year.

(Reprint from Oct. 2014 Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Escape Across the Baltic

I had no idea my visit to a local coffee shop would introduce me to a man who barely escaped both the Nazis and the Reds. I’m a writer who sometimes visits a local hang-out when a character I’m developing leaves me stymied. That’s how I met Michael, or Mihkel as it is spelled in Estonian.

That morning, our small coffee shop was packed with seniors meeting for their daily confab, tradesmen coming in for a caffeine jolt, and travelers taking a break from highway congestion.

The only place I could find to sit was opposite a white-haired gentleman with an ordinary face but astonishing blue eyes. Some Viking blood, I surmised.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” I said.

“Not at all,” he replied. “This is a busy place.”

I set down my coffee and cinnamon bun. “I should have bought shares years Hill Spirits II0001ago.”

“You’re right about that.”

Silence fell between us as he sipped his coffee and I tried to eat my cinnamon bun without smearing it all over my face. I ended up with frosting on my fingers. I’d forgotten to get a serviette. Seeing my predicament, he passed over a couple.

I nodded my thanks. “Come here often?”

‘Yes, ever since my wife, Hilda, passed on.” He glanced over at the group of seniors on the far side who had erupted in uproarious laughter, then back at me. “What sort of work do you do…or are you retired?”

“A bit of both. My wife keeps reminding me that I’m supposed to be retired. But I don’t play golf or fish so I fill up most of my time writing books.”

His eyes narrowed. “A writer, eh? Interesting. I’ve often wanted to write my story for my children and grandchildren.”

I looked away. Oh, no, I thought. Not another one. Everyone I meet seems to feel their story is worth capturing in print. Well it is, but it can be boring too. Out loud, I said, “That’s interesting.”

He nodded. “I was only seven when I escaped from Estonia. All our family in one leaky ship, fighting a terrifying storm on the Baltic.”

“Estonia?” I said, taking a sip of coffee. “Is that one of the Baltic States along with Latvia and Lithuania?”

He arched his thick eyebrows. “Most have never heard of us. We’re such a small country. Calgary probably has more people than Estonia.”

“But why did you need to escape?” I said.

He sighed. “Ever since I can remember we lived in fear—first from the Russian communists. They gradually took over Estonia when I was a child. Red flags appeared everywhere. The teachers in our school changed—spent most of their time spouting communist garbage. The books changed—even our history. Our language changed—we had to learn Russian. We had to line up and sing their horrible song. If we didn’t we got whipped.”

He looked into the distance. “I hated it. Once I laughed during the song. Got beat so bad I could hardly sit down for days. The only time I felt safe was when I slid under the covers at night.”

“Do you remember when that was?” I said.

He shuddered. “Must have been 1940. A brutal time. I remember our neighbor screaming when Red soldiers dragged her husband away. A week later the whole family disappeared. We never saw them again. I had nightmares for months. I’d wake up crying. Mother would come in and comfort me.

“The first clue I had about what was happening was the disappearance of my friends from school. I learned later that whole families had been deported to Russia and hundreds of Estonians executed.”

I stared down at my half-eaten cinnamon bun. “Was that when you escaped?”
He drained his coffee cup. “No, no, things got much worse. The Germans invaded Estonia in 1941 and, at first we thought they would save us from the Soviets. That’s when I lost my older brother. He used to carry me around on his shoulders. Playing piggy-back.”

Why didn’t I have my notebook with me? “What happened?” I said.
“He just disappeared into Russia. My Dad later explained that he had been forcibly recruited into the Russian army as they retreated from the advancing Nazis. We never heard from him again. The Soviets stole some 33,000 Estonian men this way.”

When I saw him glance at his empty cup, I jumped up. “Let me get you a refill.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” he said.

“No really. Let me. I’d love to hear more of your story.”

When I returned with fresh cups of coffee for both of us, I sat down and asked, “What happened when the Germans took over?”

He brought the coffee cup to his lips and stared into the distance. “Such a terrible time. Many Estonians didn’t make it through the war. People thought the Germans would rescue us from the hated Soviets. I remember standing with my father and my other brother to wave as the Germans marched in. That relief lasted barely a week until, like the Russians, the Germans unleashed a new wave of brutality. They executed thousands, mostly Jews, Communists and their sympathizers. It was a repeat of the Russian takeover. People just disappeared. Then they began to seize young Estonian men to serve as cannon fodder in their assault on the USSR. Estonia lost about 20,000 men—dead.

“Fortunately, my other brother fled into the forest to join the forest brothers before he could be conscripted.

“Forest brothers?”

Michael’s eyes lit up. “Yah, they were really guerillas but we called them forest brothers.We were proud of them. They harrassed the Germans when the rest of the country could do nothing but groan.”

“But how did they live?” I said.

“Local people brought them food and information. They had an abundance of weapons left behind by the retreating Soviets. Estonia has lots of forest where they could hide.”

“Were there shortages of food during the war? ”

“Oh, yah, but we lived on one of the coastal islands on the Baltic Sea. We were better off than those in cities like Tallinn and Riga on the mainland. We always had fish from the sea. Milk too from our cow and eggs from our chickens. But as things got worse and worse, people realized the only hope was escape. My father, with several others equipped a boat with a small aircraft engine. They planned to get set up in Sweden and arrange for our families to be extradited. But half-way across the Baltic, the motor cut out. A German patrol boat captured them and put them in prison.

“For two days mother cried and cried. Then she dried her eyes and assured us the Allies would soon liberate Estonia. She kept us cheerful. Fed us. Saw we got some education. Fortunately, being on an island, it wasn’t convenient for the Germans to confiscate all our food. And we had our music. Still, it was hard without father…But I’m rambling on. Sorry, I didn’t mean to bore you.”

“No, no.” I cringed at the memory of my earlier thoughts about people’s boring stories. “You mentioned music.”

He nodded vigorously. “Yah, almost everyone in our family learned to play some instrument. Guitars, mandolins, and a many-stringed instrument called a sitra. Music was so important, especially after the revival that spread through the churches before the war. As I look back, faith in God and devotion to the Lord gave us something solid to believe in as the world crumbled around us.” He sighed again. “If only the younger generation could see that faith is something that carries us through the best and worst life has to offer.”

In today’s secular society, I thought, it’s not often we hear someone talking openly about their faith.

“You mentioned sailing to Sweden. How did that happen?”

He set down his mug. “I’ll never forget that journey. Understand, several years passed until the German invasion of Russia collapsed. The Soviets chased the Germans into Estonia and began to bomb our cities. The Nazis freed my father and the others as they began to retreat. Soon after his release, he told us to get ready to leave. A man called August Meeritsal had drawn up a list of people wanting to flee. Father had put our names on it including my brother who’d fled into the forest, although he hadn’t appeared yet.

Michael grinned. His eyes twinkled. “People chattered about getting to Sweden where everyone had chocolate and could get store-bought clothes. It sounded like heaven. By this time all the Germans—there had never been very many— had retreated from the island. A crowd gathered in the village green in front of the church. My uncle Fedor got out his fiddle and people began sing patriotic Estonian songs that had been banned. Uncle even made up a song, ‘The ship is coming, the ship is coming. We will be free.’

“I didn’t know what ship he was talking about but the next day a two-masted schooner, the Elli, anchored offshore. Seeing the ship, Father looked worried. ‘That ole thing leaks like a sieve.’ It was an old schooner used mainly to haul lumber and freight between the islands.

“A few German boats still patrolled the coastal area, so the captain had had to get their permission to come. He convinced them they were going to use the ship to evacuate people to Germany, while their real aim was to go to Sweden.
Michael’s brow furrowed as he thought back to that day. “Yah, the captain came on shore and waved the list. ‘Everyone on the list, get ready to leave tomorrow morning,’ he said. Not only those on the list but many others ran home to gather together what they wanted to take with them. Dad had already arranged for a neighbour who was not leaving to care for the family cow and chickens.”

Michael stopped to catch his breath and gulped a swig of coffee. “I remember the date when we departed; Saturday, September 23rd, 1944. We could hardly sleep the night before. I remember it as clear as day even though I was only about seven or eight. In the morning people gathered along the shore with suitcases, trunks, things tied up in sheets, furniture and all kinds of stuff. When the ship’s bosun saw what people had brought, he shouted, ‘No! No! You can only take one small bag each.’ That was painful. Like everyone else we had to leave our precious possessions behind. I had to leave my dog. It was big, a mongrel, I guess one would call it, but I loved it. I cried and begged but the bosun just shook his head. It was a sad sight to see the shoreline littered with what was left behind.

“Was there a dock or something for the schooner to tie up to?” I said.
“The ship anchored off shore. They ferried people out to the ship in small, motorized fishing boats. One of them capsized and the people had to swim back to shore.”

“How many, do you think were taken on the schooner?”

He frowned as he carefully set down his mug. “That became a big problem. Originally, they planned to take 150 people. But when Alex Lugas, the captain, and his family came, he saw it was already overloaded. He ordered all non-local people off— people he didn’t know. But only two or three families left. He couldn’t force people off. So he made ready to sail. We learned later that the ship carried 310 people! Imagine.”

Just then two burly OPP officers entered the coffee shop. Michael glanced over at them. “Yah, those guys remind me. Before we could sail, a Nazi shore patrol came looking for young men trying to evade being drafted into the German army. Some young men hid behind women and children down below in the hold. Two Nazi soldiers jumped onboard. They opened the cargo hold door, and shouted below for any young men to come out. ”

Michael’s voice had risen such that the OPP officers and some of the customers glanced our way. Michael laughed, showing two gold teeth. “Everyone held their breath. We could tell the German soldiers were nervous. They kept looking over their shoulders out to sea, expecting a Soviet patrol boat, I guess. All was quiet. No one answered. We all waited in suspense. Fortunately, the soldiers spied some gasoline cans which they confiscated and left.

“It had taken all day to load the ship. We saw other small boats leave the coast north and south of us, but none as big as ours. We grew impatient. Finally, late in the evening the captain had the sail hoisted, the anchor lifted and we were off. People left behind on shore lit bonfires and waved as we set sail. Many young people on the ship began to sing; ‘Do not fear the stormy sea…’ That hymn proved prophetic.

“I was shaking with fear. Would the Russians appear before we could leave? Would they shell the ship? I was somewhat comforted by the captain’s words, “May God be with us, let us go.

“Most of the women wept openly as they had to leave their friends and farms behind. But my father assured us that we would be back by Christmas when the allies defeated the Germans.

“As darkness descended, Pilot Riis set a course for Gotland, the largest and closest of two Swedish islands. By Sunday morning the sky changed and wind veered southeast. Waves began breaking across the deck as the ship heaved in the heavy seas. Those who hadn’t been able to go below got soaked. Many men spent their time working the pumps as the old boat began to leak badly. I’m not ashamed to admit I was terrified that we would drown. All over the ship people began to be seasick. We heard urgent cries from other boats being battered by the storm. I learned later that some of the overloaded and rickety boats that set sail from different places along the coast were lost. Some were strafed by German or Russian planes. “

I looked at my empty mug in surprise. I’d been so absorbed in Michael’s story that I couldn’t remember finishing my coffee. “Were you on deck or below?”

“Below. We were crammed in like cattle. The stink was horrific. But we made it. By Sunday evening, after 24 hours at sea, we saw land. A Swedish warship came alongside and guided us to port where we anchored offshore until the morning. As a boy, however, I was taken onboard a Swedish ship along with the others my age and the women. I remember looking back at the schooner and wondering if I’d ever see my father again because the storm was so bad and the ship leaks so much. The Swedish warship ferried us to the harbour. The joy we felt to be on dry land was tempered by our worry about others on the ship. But at least we were safe from both the Nazis and the Soviets. And the next day everyone did get off.

“The Swedes were wonderful. The prince himself came and made sure we were seen by a doctor, had dry clothes and food to eat. A few weeks later a farm family took us in. We stayed with them for seven years until we immigrated to Canada. I’ve had a good life. Always found work. Met and married Hilda and we had five children and 14 grandchildren. Can you imagine?”

Michael leaned back, finished the dregs of his coffee and sighed as his mind returned to 1944. “I lost not only my dog but my buddy at that time. He stayed behind with his family and we never heard from him again. ”

He looked at his watch and stood up. “I must go. My daughter Elvi will be waiting for me to pick her up.”

I stood with him and reached out my hand. “I’m Rand. I didn’t catch your name.”
He gripped mine firmly. “Mikhel but in Canada we say, Michael. Pleasure to meet you.”

I watched him leave. His posture was rather stooped and he leaned heavily on a cane that I hadn’t seen when I was sitting down. But without knowing his story, no one would ever suspect he had lived through both Nazi and Russian occupation and escaped across the Baltic.

(Events in this story are true to historical reality but the characters are fictitious. My chief informant, who actually lived through most of these events wanted to remain anonymous. Previously published in the anthology, Hill Spirits II)

What Refugees Remind Me About Thanksgiving

Pictures of refugees fleeing their homes in Syria and Iraq, cry out for men and women of good will to respond with compassion. On a practical level, a group of five churches in our town, among others, have banded together to help bring five to seven families here to start a new life. Unfortunately, red tape may seriously delay their arrival.

Day after day the devastation and cruelty, the destruction and misery grinds on in the Middle East. We pray for it to cease. We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing…The wicked oppressing cease them from distressing!

Meanwhile the misery of those in refugee camps remind me of how much we have for which to give thanks. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

We are safe from the rockets that fly by day, and the bombs that fall at night. We take safety so much for granted! We can sleep at night without fear of being captured and tortured by inhuman monsters. God, of our fathers,…From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence, be Thy strong arm our ever Rainbowsure defense.

We live in lands blessed with a beauty that is unspoiled by war and destruction. For the beauty of the earth…Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r.

We have roofs over our heads, soft beds to sleep in, and kitchens in which to cook our abundant food. Refrigerators to keep things from spoiling. Furnaces and air-conditioners. Grocery stores with a bewildering array of foods. Malls chock full of every kind of consumer product from clothing to books and shoes. Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices…who from our mothers’ arms hath blessed us on our way.

Beyond our cities and towns, farmers work long hours to supply our population and people in other countries wLocal applesith an abundance of food. Come ye thankful people come. Raise the song of harvest home.

We have running water at our finger tips and sewage systems to drain away our waste, not onto the street but somewhere beyond our thought and care.

Every day, we open our closets and let our eyes wander over the various choices we have in what to wear. We have blankets and coats for the winter. Imagine, having only the clothes on your back. Imagine trekking to safety in worn out shoes. We thank Thee, then, O Father, for all things bright and good,…our life, our health, our food.

We have newspapers and bookstores and libraries and access to the Internet. We are wealthy in information and free to travel along our highways and through our skies.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have abundant hospitals, clinics, and doctors plus a bewildering array of other health care providers. Our drug stores are well stocked with medicines. Fire brigades and police forces are there when needed.

We have the freedom to vote; the freedom to speak out against tyranny and evil. And in spite of concerns about the deterioration of religious freedom, we still have freedom to gather in our churches and worship God according to our conscience. In everything we give thanks for what we have, whi???????????????????????????????le we intercede for the suffering churches of the Middle East.

But most of all we give thanks for the Bible and for the Holy Spirit who opened to our hearts the good news of Jesus who died for our sins and rose that we might have new life. We thank Thee for Him—Thy unspeakable gift without whom all others were vain…For Jesus, our Light, our Salvation, our All, Our Hope till His coming again.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Prospering in Stoney Ground

One day we took a walk through a park along the shores of Lake Ontario. I wandered down to the pebbly beach. Wave action has broken off zillions of smooth pebbles from the exposed layers of shale—ideal skipping stones of boys like me.

Although the beach seemed sterile and inhospitable, I was amazed to find a flowering plant rooted in the pebbles along the shore. How, I wondered, could it survive in such a barren location? On the way home we saw another remarkable sight, a mossy stonecrop plant growing out of the top of an old highway post.

Windy day at Presqui'le ParkTenacious plants remind me of Christians like Grace Anderson, the 99 year old woman whose memorial I conducted several years ago. Grace radiated a youthful, exuberant spirit until the day she went to heaven. Her hopeful attitude toward life blossomed in spite of trials that would leave many reeling. She went as a single missionary to India as the flames of war engulfed Europe. She ministered during the Indian independence movement in an apparently barren town in the north. Her first term was nine years, in order to wait for her betrothed. Back in North America, she and her family struggled to find housing and jobs when their 23 year career as missionaries ended. Her secret? A desire to please God and do His will and a persevering faith in her Lord.

Flowering plants growing from stony soil also remind me of stories from around the world. People rising from the ashes of poverty and sickness in Mozambique to flourish for God. A Christian released from prison, choosing to return there to minister to other prisoners. The joy of a converted biker and drug dealer—transformation changing a ruined life. A Christian woman in Pakistan refusing to deny her faith in Christ in order to escape possible execution. The church multiplying in Iran in spite of virulent opposition. Children refusing to convert to Islam when threatened with death.

We don’t have to look far for examples of people flourishing in spite of grievous trials. I’m sure you’ve met many. The flowers of faith, hope, and love seem to blossom most prolifically in the lives of some of those suffering the most from job loss, ill health, disappointment, persecution or tragedy.

In yielded souls, nothing can keep God from bringing blessing out of barrenness,

beauty out of ugliness, godliness out of wickedness. “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). “Is anything too hard for the Lord” (Gen. 18:14)? Whatever is going on in your life right now, He can fix it. He is not only the Creator, He is also the Re-creator!

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Enjoying Simple Pleasures

Enjoyment comes in many forms. A holiday at the seashore. An affirming friendship. A wide-screen TV. A candlelit dinner at a high end restaurant. A Sunday afternoon nap. The smell of a new car. Reading a good story while sipping a cup of coffee.

But as I think back over my life, I’ve often been disappointed by experiences anticipated or things desired passionately. My first portable radio quickly lost its fascination. Our first new car turned out to be a lemon. Disappointment has not dogged my steps, but I’m gradually learning to appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

God has given us five senses to use in the enjoyment of his gifts. “God gives us richly all things to enjoy.” Many of these simple things flow around us unheeded as part of the natural world in which we live—unnoticed until we pause long enough to stop, look, and listen. And most of gifts are free!

Sight. The sun rising in the morning and the moon at night. Cumulous clouds drifting across the sky. The breeze ruffling the leaves on the trembling aspens. Swallows dipping and diving for insects. A squirrel eating a peanut. The unfurling of a flower. Words on paper telling a wonderful story. Snow covering everything in a white blanket. And letters in the mail.

Taste. The first asparagus of the season. Ripe, garden-grown tomatoes, cut thickOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and eaten juicy on a slice of freshly baked bread. The taste of one’s own home grown beans, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. A freshly picked cob of corn smothered in butter. A bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. And, ah yes, a steak broiled on the BBQ.

Touch. A hug from a grandchild. The encouraging touch of a friend. A kiss from A Wright family dinnerone’s sweetheart. The feel of opening a new book.

Hearing. The enthusiastic harmony of a congregation singing, How Great Thou Art. The chatter of a c???????????????????????????????hild. A phone call from a friend living far away. The wind rustling leaves in a tall oak. The chatter of a goldfinch.

Smell. The scent of freshly plowed ground or cut grass. The fragrance of lavender or the earthy pungency OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAof a forest glade after rain.

How very kind of our Heavenly Father to have kept me from great wealth lest my appreciation for simple things become jaded. No costly caviar nor expensive wine for me: better a burger or a fresh-brewed cup of coffee, the sight of towering storm clouds or a rainbow after rain.

Lord, take envy far from me. Instead give me the good sense to enjoy the pleasures you have spread all around me—the simple pleasures of life.

Why Do the Shorelines of Lakes and Oceans Attract Us So Powerfully?

Cobourg harbour1A few months ago we moved to an apartment near the waterfront in a town on Lake Ontario. The pier that juts out into the lake, daily attracts scores of people coming in their trucks and cars for no other apparent reason than to gaze at the water. It’s a strange, but universal phenomenon. And one we share. Almost daily, we amble along the shoreline.

If we could, we would probably invest in a lakefront or ocean property. However, the premium charged for properties with water frontage makes such a dream unrealistic. What is there about oceans and lakes that inspires such adulation and competition for frontage?

KayakI’m sure part of the attraction concerns the fun to be had at a beach. Swimming and frolicking in the water. Kayaking and surfing. Boating and water skiing. Fishing.

Perhaps it is also the sight and sound of waves endlessly lapping on a beach. From as far as our eyes can see, the waves march toward us hypnotizing us into a pleasant state of reverie. Unless they crash on the beach in a wild storm, the sound of the waves mediates a sense of tranquility. Their regular rhyMary Helen on Myrtle Beachthm soothes our frazzled spirits in a hectic world, whispering, “All is well.”

Or perhaps we are attracted by how expanses of water reflect the infinitely varied moods of creation. One day calm and tranquility reigns. On another day gentle waves lap the shore. Then a violent storm lashes the shoreline with towering breakers. The rising sun paints the surface with astonishing colours. Evening comes and people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgather at the shore for another free and unchoreographed light show from the Divine Artist. As darkness deepens the moon rises gilding the waves with silver.

Our oldest son credits the magnetism of shorelines with the views they give of distant horizons. Most of our lives are spent with the walls of buildings or trees limiting our view. But at a beach, we can gaze off to the horizon without anything impeding our vision. This somehow expands our spirits giving us a mysterious sense of wellbeing.

Perhaps it is that very mystery that intrigues us. Below the surface there is an unknown universe so we invent snorkels to see below the surface and diving suits to probe the depths of our oceans. And yet they resist all our attempts to uncover all their secrets.

Perhaps it is the human desire to conquer or at least to get to the othPicnic at the shoreer side. We can’t walk on water like we do on land. So we invent canoes and sailing ships to traverse this mysterious element. We teach ourselves to swim. But in spite of all our attempts to conquer expanses of water, we cannot parcel it out like we do the land. It refuses to be domesticated. We can pollute it but not conquer it.

Squalls change the temper of our lakes in a moment, sending boaters fleeing to harbour. On the ocean, tides rise and fall answering alone to the moon’s gravitational pull. Storms drive tidal surges that crush our puny attempts to limit the ocean’s reach. Cities like New York and New Orleans reel from their effect.

When we venture out of our controlled environments to visit a seashore, the distant horizon humbles us. There we come face to face with something vast and mysterious that resonates with the human heart. At the margin between land and water, we sense something almost incomprehensibly Ocean along Maine coastvast. Where did it come from, we muse? We slip back to Creation and feel the, often unacknowledged, presence of the infinite and all-powerful God.

The Lord God, “who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” (Is. 40:1 NKJV) invites us to bring our joys and troubles to Him. He who spoke and 322,300,000 cubic miles of water came into existence has the capacity to understand our concerns and meet our deepest needs.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )