The Inland Ocean

Moving to Utah was such a miraculous whirlwind of events there wasn’t much time to think about what I was leaving behind.  Of course there were the obvious things.  Leaving half our family in Seattle was a very hard decision to make.  I think the only way I was able to bear it was that I had such total confident that all of my older children were ready for this, even if they didn’t know it.  For sure there would be hard times for both groups, but I knew HaShem would see us through it.

Then there were all of our friends in Seattle.  The Seward Park Jewish community is a community like none I had ever experienced before.  So many groups say they want to be a family.  The Seward Park community truly is a family.  So leaving our extended Jewish family was also very difficult.

These I knew I would miss, but most everything else, the fun of going to Downtown Seattle, the beauty of the evergreens all around us and so much more; these things I didn’t have time to consider what I would be missing.

At some point, very early on, I realized an important thing I would be missing that I didn’t consider.   I don’t know if it was during our first drive down to Utah,  or some time after we got there, but looking at a map I had a very disheartening realization that the nearest ocean was over a dozen hours away.

The ocean has been a magic place for me since I was a young adult living in San Diego.  While we lived in Seattle it was always my number one vacation place.  While we didn’t always have enough time for a proper vacation, sometimes we would make it into a very long one day trip.  We spent more time on the road than we did the beach, but at least for a few hours we were there.

For sure it was fun.  There were jetties to rock hop on, and waves to jump and sand to play in.  I enjoyed all of that.  In fact I savored every minute of that.  But for me the ocean was a lot more than fun.

I would stand on the beach and look north and south.  Sand and waves for as far as the eye could see.  All of that was more than I could comprehend. There I was in the middle of it all, but it was just too much.  It is one of those moments that is beyond words; it is just too awesome.

That is a word I rarely use, awesome.  For me it only really applies to God and His creation.  And for me there are few other parts of His creation that are truly as awesome as the ocean.  I have been to the ocean hundreds, maybe thousands of times, but it has never lost it’s effect on me.

I usually play with the kids in the waves or enjoy resting in the sand for a while.  But almost always sooner or later I take a walk along the beach.  This is my special time with HaShem.  I pray. I pour my heart out.  I feel His grandeur, and I look out at the ocean and realize that no matter what my problem is He can solve it.

That rainy day in Utah when I realized I would rarely see my cherished ocean was a sad one.  At first I thought I would see it every time I went back to Seattle.  Instead of going to Seattle we could rent a cabin at the beach and have the family join us.  It didn’t take much thinking to realize that just wasn’t practical.  I realized I didn’t have a solution and it could be many years before I saw the ocean again.  This was a disheartening thought but I couldn’t dwell on it.  There was much to do with moving to a new state, so I had to put this loss behind me and focus on the tasks at hand.

One day as I was driving to work I realized God has surrounded me with the solution, I just had to look beyond the road ahead of me to see it.  The Wasatch front where we now live and work is at the foot steps of the Rocky Mountains.

I have lived in and seen many different mountain ranges in my life, but I have never seen anything like these.  All of the other mountain ranges I had experienced gradually grew from low rolling hills to bigger hills to even bigger hills until at some point you realize you are in the midst of a mountain.  From a distance looking at them you see this slow gradual build.  But these mountains here are different.

There is no gradual build up.  There is the valley floor and then like a skyscraper in a desert there are these enormous towering mountains.  I would include a picture but that wouldn’t work.  It would be like looking at a picture of the ocean  and expecting some one to feel the experience.

So God had given me mountains to replace my beloved ocean with.  But this ocean surrounds me.  To the east are the great Rocky Mountains I have spoken of.  To the west are the Oquirrh Mountains.  While not as grand as the Rockies the are still magnificent.  Between the two of them is the Salt Lake Valley we live in.  Like the ocean, they go on as far as the eye can see.  Like the ocean their grandeur is just too awesome for words.  Like the ocean they constantly remind me of God’s awesomeness.  Like the ocean they tug at my heart to consider God and pray.

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