September 28, 2020

La Mer


We’ll resume our Tuesday “Civil Religion” series next week.

I’ve been taking a few days of R & R down in Florida and thought I’d share a few pics with you today. These have not been through final editing, but I think you’ll get the idea of how beautiful and refreshing these days have been. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

Photos were taken at Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island, and Caladesi Island, Florida’s Gulf Coast. The weather has been cool and windy, but the beaches were glorious for taking long walks.

Nothing clears my head and restores my spirit like the ocean.

Ah, ma bien-aimée mer, it has been far too long.


  1. The water and the sky! Such beautiful colors, I loved them all.

  2. “It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.”

    ? J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Tolkien – a true master of discomforting hope. Melkor and the darkness feared the Sea, not because of any virtue, but because “it could not be tamed”. What better description of the Sea is there?

      • In the bible, the sea is referred to as a fearsome and mysterious place, not a place of tranquility. The Hebrews were not seafaring people, but people of the land, and it shows in the stories—from Noah, Jonah, into the New Testament with Jesus calming the storm and Paul shipwrecked. I’m told that they didn’t have the vocabulary for describing things maritime, and to row a boat, for example, they needed to use the word for “dig.”

    • Love the quote from Tolkien. But this is good too:

      By the sea, by the sea,
      By the beautiful sea,
      You and I, you and I,
      Oh, how happy we’ll be!
      I love to be beside the sea,
      Beside the sea,
      Beside the seaside,
      By the beautiful sea!

      And when you get that song stuck in your head, it will leave if you reflect on the fact that, according to the Revelation of St. John, in heaven there will be no more sea.

      • According to Randy Alcorn in his book Heaven, there will be a sea but it will not be salty. Don’t get me started on that.

        • What’s the point of trying to interpret whether there will be seas or not, and whether they’ll be salty or not…? Oy vey!

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          So… What is the chapter/verse that supports saltless seas? Will the same type of fish live in those seas – just rengineered for fresh water – or will they be different fish? What about whales? Will we be able to breathe underwater?

          • Sorry, didn’t see this earlier. Alcorn says that because salt water is undrinkable, God would not resurrect the oceans into something that’s harmful. Somehow he’s overlooked how bountiful salt water is to sea creatures, and how God has them manage quite well.

            I make my living on the ocean and I’ve never once thought about not being able to drink it if I fall overboard. I think about not being able to breathe it, or to walk on it, and how cold it is, but drinking it? Never occurred to me.

            That quaint little, uh, hermeneutic of Alcorn’s ruined the whole book for me. I didn’t read any more, much as my wife liked it.

      • We run like a river to the sea, run to the sea
        We run like a river to the sea
        And when it’s raining, raining hard
        That’s when the rain will break my heart
        Raining, raining hard, raining in your heart
        Raining, rain into your heart, raining

        Oh great ocean, oh great sea
        Run to the ocean, run to the sea

        • Great song.

        • Call me Ishmael. Some years ago–never mind how long precisely–having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feeling towards the ocean with me.

          Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

  3. Florida’s gulf coast have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

    • Agreed. Grew up in New Orleans. Many vacations spent along the Florida Gulf Coast. In fact, when my wife and I honeymooned at Disney World we tacked on a side trip to St. Pete just so she could experience it.

  4. I will not covet my neighbor’s vacation…I will not covet my neighbor’s vacation…I will not covet my neighbor’s vacation

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Sounds like someone needs to go to confession. 🙂

    • Phil D, yours is an interesting post to me, aside from being funny. For most of my life as a pastor, I have coveted as people have gone to Florida, especially over Spring Break. Where I live, the towns and countrysides literally empty at SB time, forming a steady line of traffic south on I-65. However, as a pastor, I had seasonal responsibilities, especially if the break fell anywhere near Holy Week. It made me wonder what most people around here really consider holy. But that was probably just mostly sour grapes. I didn’t really covet so much for myself, as for my children, who had to listen to their friends’ Florida stories and wonder why our family didn’t participate.

      Actually, this is the first time Gail and I have ever come to Florida for an intentional vacation, and even now we could only spare 3-4 days. And the kids aren’t with us. As we walked the beaches, we talked about what we might do in years to come to make up for lost time.

    • I covet it ! Wonderful journey, Chaplain MIKE ! Enjoy and be renewed.

      High on my own Bucket List: to place my feet again in the waters of the ocean and touch base with that great source from which life first was formed after ‘ the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’ . . .

      an elemental journey, so basic, so right . . .
      AND a joyful act of thankful appreciation for existence, for being, for life itself

  5. And I live with that beauty every day in SoCal and never give it a second thought. I go to the mountains and get refreshed by their majesty and forbidding remoteness and then return home where I greet the ocean which I take for granted. Vacations can work BOTH ways.

    • Agreed, Oscar. I’m a so Cal native and I forget how good I have it until I see people from colder climates revelling in the sun and surf.

      It’s 88 degrees right now in the San Gabriel Valley. I want to go play in the snow to cool off, but my wife, who is from Minnesota, never seems to find snow very much fun. Gee, I wonder why?

  6. Mike, in the photo you’re standing at the interface of three worlds—land, sea, and sky. Do that at sunset or sunrise, and you’re also between the worlds of night and day. If you pray, you’re also at the edge of heaven and earth.

    Not to confuse you. I meant that to inspire you. Maybe Robert F could write a haiku.

  7. Have a cold beer in the warm sun and feel the grace floating in the breeze! Fun fun.

  8. Well deserved, CM, more than well deserved. Be blessed, be healed, enjoy!

    • Chris and Charles, you are so kind. Thanks, we’ve really relaxed — ate too much, yes — but took long walks too and felt the sound of the waves and the smell of salt air clear our minds.

  9. –> “Nothing clears my head and restores my spirit like the ocean.”

    Me, also. My family takes an annual trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Beautiful place. Love the sounds and sights of the ocean and the surf.×1200.jpg

    • I just bought a painting from Jeffrey Hull Galleries. Jeff does everything Oregon coast. It’s going over my bed.

    • Rick, I have almost that same photo, except it’s my daughter tramping through the sands, not a man on a bike. My wife and I went there for her graduation from Lewis & Clark a few years ago.

      Next time you’re in Cannon Beach, go to a gift shop called Sesame & Lilies and say hi to our friends the Speakmans. When they go on vacation they come here to Maine.

  10. Randy Thompson says

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the sun, surf and sand.
    It’s nice that you are doing something useful while I’m here in New Hampshire digging out from last night’s snow.

    Since today is the New Hampshire Primary, I can honestly say that I don’t envy you, because, as of today, there will be no more daily calls from pollsters, researchers, and nice people encouraging us (over and over and over again) to be sure to vote. It isn’t Florida, but it IS nice to be left alone!

    And, for those of you political junkies who care about such things, John Kasich and Bernie Sanders carried Dixville Notch last night! (They voted just after midnight, just as they always do.)

  11. “Nothing clears my head and restores my spirit like the ocean.”

    Me too. I could see the Pacific from my bedroom window in the house where I grew up, and hear the waves if it was a foggy night. The smell of “Home” to me is the smell of the sea mixed with the peppery scent of blackberry leaves, and a bit of evergreens decaying in the moisture of the forest duff.


  12. The Sabbath was made for man, or so I’ve heard. 🙂 Enjoy your rest!

  13. David Cornwell says

    Mike, you are doing great with your camera and the photographs. Keep it up. Add that to the beach, and you have for yourself one of the best forms of relaxation and inspiration there is. Walking, listening to the ocean, contemplating the light, and the dark, talking to God, and hopefully to Gail– enjoy– or just plain joy.

  14. I’m sure you’ll think I’m crazy but I’ve lived in st Petersburg since 1983 and all the talk is about how it has been too cold and windy to go outside the last two days. We’ve got the heat up and extra blankets out for tonight (mid 40s). It’s funny to hear your thoughts on this weather.

    • in st Petersburg… all the talk is about how it has been too cold and windy to go outside the last two days. We’ve got the heat up and extra blankets out for tonight (mid 40s).

      Lows in the 40s? Back in the Midwest, we’d still *barbecue* in weather like that 😛

  15. It’s wonderful to see you looking so happy, Chaplain Mike. I too love the ocean — I’ve never been to Florida, but I have been to Oregon/Washington. Not as warm, but still — the ocean! Enjoy enjoy, and make plans for you and Gail to take lots of outings to the seashore.