Today I changed the desktop background on my computer. I found one of those Caribbean ocean blue underwater shots, where you can see the sunlight reflecting off the water surface above, and the white rippling sand below. It’s all sunlight and blue light and wavy, undulating water. And every time I see it, I want to dive in.
But it’s not just my desktop. When I get near an ocean, even when the water’s cold, it’s hard to resist the urge to leap in. When I’m walking along a creek and see a swimming hole, I want to hop in. It’s not that I’m an especially gifted swimmer for that matter—I failed my swimming test at summer camp. It’s just that when I see a body of water, I feel a hankering to submerge myself in it.
I don’t think this is terribly unusual. Many can relate to the thrill of jumping into a lake on a summer’s day. But the thing is, this instinct isn’t as simple as a mere desire to cool off on a hot day. There’s something even more fundamental taking place.
Every time we encounter a good thing, we are attracted to it. This engagement with the objects that continually attract us isn’t a mere appreciation of things, which is content with considering their goodness from a distance. It’s more like an “entering into” those goods. It involves a reaching out to them that is ultimately a sort of intellectual immersion in them—whether those goods are material things, like chocolate chip cookies, or immaterial things, like eternal truths.
But when they are material things, we are able to enter into them with both our mind and body. We see a good cup of lemonade; we drink it. We hear good music; we stop and listen to it. We come upon a flower; we smell it. And when we find a lake full of water, we may jump into it—and if we do, we are able to enter into that water’s being in the most literal of ways. Jumping into that Caribbean sky-blue water, we are entering into that reality which is Caribbean sky-blue water with our full mind and full body. We are both cognitively and physically immersed in that reality, literally splashing around in its being, swimming through its goodness. No wonder it is so satisfying!
When God looks upon his creation, he is no passive observer either. Ultimately, the way in which he has chosen to engage with us is less like someone listening to a lecture or smelling a flower, and more like someone jumping into a swimming hole. In his unfathomable and loving condescension, he chose to “jump into” that good which is humanity, immersing himself in us by taking on our very nature. Seeing the goodness of the Blessed Virgin, he did a high jump to beat all high jumps, diving into that deep lake which is the womb of the Virgin Mary.
And as it happens, it works the other way as well. For Christ’s ascension into that Boundless Ocean which is heaven was in fact a tandem jump—and we were his partners. Because of this, our knowledge of God in heaven will not be mere proximate observation, like a tourist gazing out at an ocean sunset. Rather, it will be a plunge into the very depths of that Ocean—mind, soul, and body all.
Image by Austin Neill