My Father and the Sea

Last night as I lay sleepless in my bed, thoughts and memories broke upon my consciousness like the waves that ceaselessly crash upon the shores of life.  Because I am drawn to analogy, I saw them like dark waters, borne out from the pregnant sea, called by the waxing moon to dash upon my heart.  The pregnant sea, like the subconscious mind, brings us that which was hidden. Ancestral voices call, seemingly indistinguishable from our own. In pursuing this metaphor, this analogy, I remembered my father, and in so doing have decided to share part of his “Meditation by the Sea.”

“I walk in wonder by the sea—the fresh salt air sharp in my nostrils.  The restless striving of the surf, the shock of breakers against the rock, and the echo of the sea bird’s cry seeming very like a dear but long forgotten dream.

How feminine is the sea—her countenance ever changing yet somehow always the same!  Now smoothed in peace, now dancing in sparkling animation, or—under the lash of the winds—stirred to relentless fury. How secret are her depths—how resourceful and ample her womb from which has sprung all life on this fair green planet.  Yes, and beautiful are her children, even the most grotesque and curious, and how perfect each in its own way—from amoeba to leviathan—from newt to man—from lichen to templed Sequoia…

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep.”

And instantly, in recalling these majestic words from Genesis, I am suddenly and warmly kin to that ancient, unknown prophet who first phrased them in sudden intuition linking the Fatherhood of God to the motherhood of the sea.

I walk in wonder by the sea.  Here is evoked peace and contentment—but more than this, strength and everlasting striving.  I have come home again!”

Joseph Conrad Chamberlin


Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 9:45 am  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What beautiful words. Your father was a writer?

  2. Actually, he was an entomologist by profession. But he was also a fine photographer, a lover of music and poetry, and, it would seem, a writer of more than scientific articles. Thank you, Beth.

  3. Oh, I always think it’s so interesting how writing skill tends to run in families. Did you see Murr’s recent post that mentioned her great-grandfather, who was a writer? (

    Also appreciated your dad’s mention of lichens! ;o)

    • Pat, I didn’t read that post but need to sign up for it. Will check it out for sure. When I posted that excerpt from my dad, I thought of you with a chuckle as I typed, from lichen to …Thanks for commenting.

  4. Mmm, the imagery is so lovely. I really can feel myself walking along the shore.

    • I like that, MacKenzie. Let’s take a virtual stroll along the edge of the sea. 🙂

  5. Beautiful post, Alice.

    • Thank you, LJ. I’m glad you were able to share some of my father’s words and thoughts.

  6. An exquisite blog!

    • I love hearing that from you.

  7. It’s obvious that the writing talent runs in the family. Lovely excerpt.

  8. Thank you, as always, Lisa for reading and commenting. 🙂

  9. How Beautiful! Guess that’s why I love beach combing so much!

    • For me, the sea stirs a sense of primeval wonder, just star gazing can do. I like to think that my father experiences a similar awe. Thank you for commenting.

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