June 8: World Oceans Day
"Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet" is this year's theme for World Oceans Day. June 8 is a United Nations recognized day of celebration and action for the oceans. I was happy to hear of two initiatives in particular to protect the oceans from pollution by plastic.
The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, in order to reduce the amount of plastic dumped into the ocean, will no longer sell beverages in plastic bottles nor provide members with plastic bags or straws. Another response to the plastic waste choking our oceans is the Better Bag Challenge. The challenge: promise not to take any disposable plastic bags for a whole year. Take a better bag instead!
Simple actions can have a ripple effect in our interconnected world. I wonder what other ways we might, individually or as a community, reduce our plastic consumption this year?
I am grateful for the beauty, power and gifts offered us by the oceans. They are the Earth's largest life support system, providing half of the oxygen we breathe and a sixth of the animal protein that we eat. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the impact of climate change and are a likely source of new medicines.
In anticipation of World Ocean Day, I would like to share with you a reflection which I wrote while on a sabbatical on the Pacific coast.
Full moon allures the high tides
As I hear the ocean's beckoning call
How I longed to spend time with you in Santa Cruz
To touch, to see, to taste, to hear and walk in you.
Too cold to swim and yet our experience is deep.
Your breakers thunder as they push to shore;
I am seized by delight for I can enter into you.
Here comes another swell!
I duck and feel myself rhythmically lifted
Through your powerful, outstretched arms.
Freedom, strength, trust.
I know your strength and I am at ease.
You call forth my playfulness
And lead me in your grace.
How I marvel at you --
At one moment a growing wave,
Then a racing wall of force
Descending in sunlit ribbons
As you dance in foam
To churn with the sand-filled undertow
That gallops out to greet you.
What joy you offer me
And this pleasure you share with that cluster of children
Turning cartwheels on the shoreline
Smoothed by your waters.
Surprise! Why did you carry that little red jacket away?
Oh, you gave it back.
So you enjoy playing jokes and listening to our laughter!
Tell me, do the birds out there ever tire of bobbing in your home?
At times they tell me, "There is a season."
In the distance a flock hovers and swoops
Hoping to thank you for hosting their meal.
Life in your presence is not static;
So I see.
What has happened at your shoreline?
At least one hundred guests have flown in.
Again as I watch, I too participate in their activity.
Sandpipers, dressed in your brown and white,
Why do you travel in such large groups?
Are you defending yourselves from stronger competitors?
I am tickled to discover your daring,
Your speed, as you peck for sand crabs.
You take up this challenge
As a game -- a race with the incoming ocean.
You amuse me as you bound forward at top speed
Only to turn sharply when your ankles get wet,
And return to the shore.
Repeat and repeat, and you shall have your fill!
My friend, what secrets you do conceal.
Wouldn't I love to see more of your wonders,
Deep sea diving,
I stand in awe at Point Joe and invite you,
The Restless Sea, to envelope me.
Crashing, climbing, swirling turbulence.
Deep purple, black, sky blue, winter green,
Aquamarine, white, yellow,
Spectacular sight and sound!
And you and I know that deep down,
in your depths, you hold the answer to the puzzle;
Why this phenomenon?
It is the unique configuration of your floor.
With arms opened, heart pounding, I bow before you.
Down the coast the sea lions bark,
Converse with one another, and the gulls and cormorants.
They speak to me, and you do too,
of the interdependence which unites us.
I thank you for the gift of yourself, O Ocean.
You have touched me deeply, and I am healed.
I have dived through you --
You have flooded me!
Sitting on your bank my mouth has puckered and watered!
taste your salt and am refreshed!
Classes call me back.
I depart a changed person.
Reflection and Poem by Sister Betty Lou Knox