Waves are a prominent part of bodies of water. Every type of water system features waves, whose dimensions depend on the size of the water system with which they are connected. The high seas and the oceans, given their immensity, feature the most impressive types of waves. Lesser bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes in this country, also generate waves, as do rivers and ponds. Waves are a commonplace phenomenon associated with the gatherings of water.
If we have ever had the opportunity to walk along the beach of a large body of water, we would likely do so barefooted, precisely because of the incoming waves, soaking the likely sandy beach area before receding back into the body of water from which they came. But waves tend to keep coming; they may back off for awhile, but only momentarily, before they gather up energy again and roll vigorously back upon the shoreline.
Have we ever thought about the identity of those waves? Have we ever taken the time and trouble of measuring those waves: the speed or force with which they roll up against the beach, the impact with which they hit the beach, the average height of the waves, the length of time they take to regroup before rolling toward the beach again?
Specifically, have we ever pondered whether this rhythm of coming in and flowing out is precisely timed to occur like clockwork, or whether this rhythm varies throughout the day and night, or whether the power with which they carry out this process diminishes or increases with the passage of time?
Even more pointedly, have we ever wondered whether the wave crashing onto the beach ahead of me is exactly the same wave that did this very same thing minutes earlier, which, having spilled over the beach, rolled back off of it into the water from which it came, only to revitalize itself and once more move toward the beach and splay itself out along the beach’s surface, only to flow back once again into the waters from which it came, so as to regroup, and return once again, thundering up over the beach?
Or, when the wave has returned to its originating source, does it mingle its waters with a supply of new and different water to form a somewhat (but not totally)different kind of wave, but one which again repeats the rhythmic motion of the previous wave? In this instance, we would have a partially changed wave, but not completely so. Yet again, does the wave returning to its origin in the body of water which generates it undergo a complete and total overhaul, so that its previous water-type gives way before a completely new version of water quality, distinguishing it as a brand new wave, no longer a replica or a mix of the waves preceding it?
Tedious questions, these—but possibly enlightening us as to how God works within and upon us. Can God, with His gifts and graces as His energy resource, uniquely destined for each one of us, be likened to a wave crashing in onto the shoreline of our lives, engulfing us, even if only momentarily, before receding in the face of resistance from us? Is God likely to approach us again, like another wave, this time composed with a different mix of graces, gifts and spiritual helps, readied to crash in upon us like a wave, engulfing us by its impact and force? Is God forever redesigning His impact on our lives, initially in a slow and quiet way, then picking up energy, and, finally, depending on our receptiveness to Him, engulfing us like a spiritual tsunami, sweeping us off our feet and possibly carrying out to sea?
We suspect God works in phases and stages in our lives, and given His creativity and ingenuity, it is likely that He is forever acting the part of another wave breaking upon the shore of our life, before receding for awhile, before regrouping in anticipation of our receptiveness to His inflowing presence.
When Jesus finally made the astounding offer of His own Body and Blood to eat and drink, He did so in terms comparable to a great tsunami wave engulfing us, in the aftermath of previous waves washing up on the shore of our life—such as the hints and promises Jesus earlier made about the special kind of bread/spiritual food He was preparing for us. As we tried to understand these impressive and tantalizing remarks, resembling lesser waves lapping up against our feet, we soon learned they were nothing like the torrential wave that would engulf us: the promise of the Eucharist. That was a tsunami the likes of which we never encountered before.