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The sea is madre

In  August, this native Midwesterner and current desert dweller was blessed to be able to make my retreat a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, and to go down to the shore every day.

In August, this native Midwesterner and current desert dweller was blessed to be able to make my retreat a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, and to go down to the shore every day.

When my sister, Lucy, was teaching in south Texas many years ago, she told me that down by Padre Island people would say, “The land is padre, but the sea is madre.”

In August, this native Midwesterner and current desert dweller was blessed to be able to make my retreat a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, and to go down to the shore every day.

Every morning I just sat and looked at it and listened to the gentle breakers. When it comes to contemplating infinity, I think this is about as close as we can get to it on our globe.

Watching the Pacific is pretty much a non-event. “The quiet sea,” “Stille,” in German. The German word for sea is Meer. In so many languages, the word for sea is related to the word for mother: mar, mare, mer, Meer. In Chinese either the sound or the character is similar.

“The Spirit moved over the waters.” Life on Earth began in the sea; it is the womb of life on Earth. Beginning with the little one-celled sea creatures, all life was nourished, nurtured by the sea.

And here we are!

Many years ago, I watched the Frank Capra documentary, “Hemo the Magnificent.” Hemo told us that our blood has the same basic constituency as seawater. No part of our body, except our bones and our eyeballs, is more than one cell away from seawater. So after billions of years, we are still swimming in seawater, still nourished, still nurtured by the sea. The unity of all this just brings me to my knees.

The sea – embodiment of God’s motherly love. “I give you thanks that I am so wonderfully made! You knit me in my mother’s womb.”

Where can I run from your love? If I hide in the farthest corner of the sea, you are there, guiding me, protecting me from harm. The bottomless depth of your maternal love… The sea is madre.

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Sister Carol Nolan

Sister Carol Nolan recently retired from ministering at Providence in the Desert in Coachella, California, a ministry she founded in 2002. She currently lives and volunteers at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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1 Comment

  1. Veronica O'Connor- Roni on September 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Your teaching has always filled my heart…thank you for taking us with you, allowing us to stand always at your side…leading, ever leading, like a song.

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