I have loved the sea all of my life, and I have always been intrigued by what its waters cover and what they don't. It never ceases to amaze me, when I walk the edge of the ocean at low tide, to realize that in six hours the water will be eight feet deep at the very point on which I stand. Which means that right there, where tiny crabs scuttle across the sand at dinnertime, large fish ~ perhaps even sharks ~ will be swimming at midnight.
"After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" asks the poet T.S. Eliot in Gerontion, a poem in which an old man contemplates what he sees in the aftermath of World War I.
The more sorrow I absorb, the more knowledge I seem to acquire. Is it knowledge of the Lord that we have stumbled upon, those of us who have landed in what one of my friends describes as territory no one wants to traverse?
Perhaps it is. Because, while Eliot voices despair over the prospect of no forgiveness in the aftermath of the knowledge of the horrors of war, Isaiah raises the hope of a world in which there is no more hurt and destruction as a consequence of knowledge of the Lord. And those of us who have found ourselves in this place devoid of our beloved children have surely found a community of quiet kindness and gentleness among each other.
If we could cover the earth with what we have learned, if we could fill the sea to its high-tide depths with the gifts we have been given and invited to share ~ gifts of sadness, of forgiveness, of resiliency, of solidarity with one another ~ they would bear a resemblance to Isaiah's vision. These gifts are, I think, hints of knowledge of God.