There is something emotional about the ocean. At first, I thought it was only the ocean I’ve seen in the United States. The waves, the loud noise, the water meeting the horizon. Having spent some time on the Mediterranean, I realize it’s not about the magnitude of the waves or the tides. The Adriatic Sea is calm. There are no 10-foot waves, no surfers, not even sand. The sounds of the Adriatic are more like a rushing river or a quiet lake. Surrounded by islands, I am not able to see the ocean meet the horizon. Although I can’t see the magnitude of the sea here in Croatia, I am aware how this quieter body of water is connected to the massive oceans I’ve seen in the past. A certain sense of peace comes with being near the ocean. Something far stronger than a river, lake or pond. It isn’t the presence of a body of water that brings this tranquility. It’s the scale in which the ocean is measured. The way it makes humans feel. The way it makes us feel so small and helpless. It is something we truly cannot control…even if we tried.
Humans have no way of understanding just how large the world beneath us is. And I think because of that, our minds are eased and we simply accept, for one short moment, how small we really are. Water is soothing. Water brings an ironic complexity that stills the spirit and allows us to enjoy the greatness of nature. For me, here in the Adriatic Sea, perhaps it’s the ancient presence of Paul heading for Italy. (Acts 27:27)
As I write this, I’m sitting on a rock underneath a full moon in Croatia. It is truly one of the most calming moments of my life. The air has a slight chill, but the sound of the water rolling over the pebbles distracts me from my cold skin. The moon allows just enough light to see the mountains surrounding me. I can see the headlights of cars driving around the mountains. Like small lightning bugs. The light reflections on the water have become one of my favorite sights. The sparkle, the black and white ripples. To my left is a marina.
Today I saw fishermen releasing their massive collection of crabs from their boat’s nets. I’ve seen things like this before, but never in another country by myself. I’m able to witness life without the distractions of conversing with fellow travelers. There is no pressure to entertain, to compromise. It’s just me. Most of the time it’s quiet, which is something that has made me uncomfortable throughout my life. But, here I’m ok with it. I’m ok with being silent and just listening. Just watching. I know these things will occur whether I’m here or not. But, being here for now, even for a short time, allows me to take a small part of this country with me forever.