Life began perhaps in a tidal pool. Perhaps it continues to be in a tidal pool, if one considers the ocean to be the staggering immensity of God’s love for us. ‘God loves and God loves and God loves.’ The Trinitarian refrain is not simple reiteration but rather reinscription, cutting deeper both the wounds in creation that bring creation to God and the wounds in God that bring God to creation.
God’s love laps at the universe. The tidal pool is deepened even as the division between the pool and the ocean grows and shrinks, grows and shrinks. ‘God loves’ is neither the word nor even the concept but is simply the sound of the ocean resounding against the barriers between God and creation. God’s love breaks upon the shore of time not temporally, not sequentially, but in the rhythmic grace of time itself.
There is something rather than nothing because God’s love carves the universe out of the space of God’s self/ves. Creation is what happens when the tide for a moment retreats so that it can resound. Is this tidal pool the ocean or is it not the ocean? It is separate from the ocean but filled somewhat with saltwater. It is not the ocean, but it reminds itself of the ocean. The waters have withdrawn, but only for a moment.
It is in the nature of the tidal pool that the waters will return. If they did return, there would be no tidal pool. If they stayed forever, the tidal pool would simply be a divot in the ocean floor of God. But behold! The wave breaks upon the shore. Everything is churning, moved by the tumultuous restlessness of God’s steadfast love. The tide retreats, the tide returns. Love floods the universe and reminds it from whence it came. It takes perhaps some of the barrier away with it.
What is this strange intake, this perplexing limitation of the ocean? It is more powerful than the tiny pond, it could sweep the whole shoreline away! But it does not. What does the ocean want? Does an ocean want? Does it, can it, want a little pool of life? There has never been a tide without an ocean, there has never been a withdrawal without something to withdrawal, without with-drawing. The tidal pool has not endured forever, though the ocean guards it as though desirously, rapturously, drawing-with the little pool of life.
We know that God withdraws because we are here and we are not God. This is the heart of our little living puddle, our piddling mud-hole in the great sands of time and the endless waves of holy love. Self-limiting? Behold the sea! It goes on around us horizon to horizon in all directions. We can go nowhere there is no love except perhaps the very place we stand, the place that constitutes us – though with any luck we might get our feet wet. The sound of the ocean is like the sound of a sleeping lover, the deep breaths of the assured.
God loves in and God loves out and God loves in again. Creation is God’s baited breath. Redemption is the breeze along the shore, the holy wind that promises God’s return. The returning tide is the very breath of God. We are mud and water and breath, the very sort of life one could expect from tidal pools. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. The lands are tidal because the tide goes in and the tide goes out.
When breathing, one collapses a little, the diaphragm folds us at the waist. In the very act of breathing we execute a bow, a humbling, a tiny self- limitation that is in fact a miniscule death. The breath of life leaves us. God’s act of redemption was primarily an act of suffocation. One is crucified when one can no longer hold one’s self upright. The bow carves out the self. God’s act of creation was a bow, a pouring out, a self-and-breath-and-tidal emptying.
God curves around creation at the belly, at God’s womb. Creation in turn bows to God, curled as a child in the womb. The fetal position is the primordial bow of life. We breath in tune with God, God’s breath is the tide of our very life. The sound of the heart is like the sound of the ocean is like the sound of our own breath. The blood in flowing retreats and beats, beats and retreats. The pulse of God’s love is the pulse of time. The blood of God is love. The space of God’s love is the tidal pool of the universe, and the God of the universe resounds in oceanic love.
God’s breath flows through and to and for the womb of all creation until it is formed and it is fulfilled. Selah.