Of the Sea

The sea, the sea!

My first true love was the sea; the sea is probably my one true love (and farm fields, my querida). Which is strange, for I have seldom been to the sea: seven times on the beach, and only one beyond sight of the shore. But the rarity of these encounters is perhaps the reason why I yearn for the sea, why I long for it, why I hear its call–rolling waves and crying seagulls–all the louder.

My fascination with the sea stretches back to my childhood, during my sister’s birthday, which also happened at the time to be on Easter Sunday. But back then the sea was the beach, the playground of sand and kingdom of sandcastles, and the waters were a distant entity, strange and large and fascinating and vaguely frightening. I saw people on TV, drowning beneath the waves. And yet the sea played with me. The same waves that doomed others lapped my feet, wetting my toes with its cool caress.

But love came a little later, and it came with this music. For some reason, that song spoke to me, and it spoke to me of the sea, of its endless width and depth, of the sunlight making the waters glitter with gold and diamonds, of the cool winds blowing, the waves ebbing, the seagulls flying home. And hearing that song, I knew that in my heart, the sea is home. I may not be a mermaid. I may not be an elf. But still–in the sea I found a glimpse of that quiet, of that contentment, of that peace I have always wanted to find. I realized: when I die, I want to die facing the sea, my foot feeling the cool waters one last time, my ears filled with that song, that deep, beautiful, hopeful song.

This is not to say that the sea is always peaceful, and that we should never be afraid. Even the sea fills me with dread, sometimes. I may brave crossing the sea, as we did when we crossed the strait between Luzon and Mindoro. But I cowered when a tsunami became a very real possibility. And yet, now I think of it, can we always be sure, can we always be at ease with those whom we love? Those we love are never completely made known to us, and that which we do not yet understand disturbs us, discomfits us. And must we love them any less for this? Should we not, in that which we love, cherish what we do not know as much as, if not more than, what we do know?

What do we know of the sea? What can we say of it? For me, all great things come from the sea. From the sea spring life and abundance as fish on the dinner table, beauty and hope as a word to the weary poet, strength and tremor as the call of adventure and the last crashing sound of death–all great things, whether we can endure them or no. Our country is the Eastern Sea’s pearl, so we still sing; the sea is our mother. The West, our brothers, came from the sea: riding tall galleons with proud flags waving, or blue and yellow ships of the line with mighty cannons roaring, or in dark iron battleships bringing horror and ruin. For good or for ill, all the great things that shaped our country came from the sea. And even now, just as our land itself was born of the dark blue waters, it is the wonder, the allure, the terror, and ultimately the total beauty of the sea that touches our hearts with its seagulls’ song and with the rhythm of its waves, that calls us home.

The sea, the implacable mistress, is the most mysterious thing of all–therefore the most dangerous. And yet it is that which stirs in our hearts the greatest feelings, the greatest yearnings. But so are all great things, so are all things most worthy of love. So is, in the end, God.

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