“Our sermon next Wednesday evening will be on the hymn ‘For those in peril on the sea’”.
The closing announcement at our midweek service reminded me that I missed the sea. Driving to Graiguenamanagh last evening, walking along the banks of the Barrow, was a reminder of how far inland we now live. The sea was part of our lives for more than twenty years, up and down the East Coat; living close to Strangford Lough, and then Dundrum Bay, the North Channel, and Killiney Bay, moving from the coast seemed strange.
For seven years, every Monday morning at about ten to ten I drove the road between Bray and Greystones, Once you got to the top of the road at Windgates, you began the descent down into Greystones and as you looked to the left you caught sight of the sea. I loved that moment, every week the sea looked different, every week the light on the water changed the scene from the last time I saw it.
The sea was always a place of magic and excitement; it that filled up boys’ adventure books, it was the place for battles and for heroes rescuing people in storms. The sea was the place where people sailed off to strange and exotic places. The sea always grabbed my imagination.
Being violently sick on the Rosslare ferry more than once, it seemed odd to have such an affection. There was a moment some five years ago or more that explained it. The first blossoms were beginning to appear on some of the bushes at the roadside as I drove towards Greystones and I looked up at Little Sugar Loaf. Soon, I thought, the hillside will begin to change colour as the spring arrives, even the hills change through time. I passed Windgates and looked down at the sea, and realized that here was the one thing that didn’t change.
The sea off of the Wicklow coast had seen thousands and thousands of years and history, it had seen great events, it had seen invaders come and go, it had seen pain and heartbreak as the emigrant ships left Ireland, and it had been unmoved, unchanged. You could be the most important, most powerful, most famous person in the world, and that sea was there long before you and would be there long after you are forgotten.
Seeing the sea as I drove to Greystones put life into perspective, for a moment, at least.