James McBride once said that, “Water has no color. God is the color of water.”
I was born a Hindu, but I’ve never taken the pilgrimage to Varanasi to have my sins cleansed in the sacred Ganges. Western faiths like Judaism and Christianity also use water to wash a man clean of his evils – to be reborn, as they say. Water cleans evil best. Priests spray holy water over the devout because God is in the water. Water holds God the best.
Music sold for the sole purpose of relaxation sell water sounds to people in cities who don’t have the luxury of hearing it outside their sinks and bathtubs. Water is peace. Scientists and science-fiction writers send spaceships out into the eternal vastness of space to discover water – and the presence of life. Even the amino acids that drive our lives depend on this water.
Entire desert societies thrive around the only source of water in a hundred square kilometer area – covered by the crests and ebbs of a different kind of sea – ones made of sand and dust. We cannot forget Babylon or Sumeria, the cradles of civilization. In truth, man’s search for peace and civilization has always been a search that is drawn to water.
Andy, Mike and I stood in the tide on deserted Hatteras Island, looking for the hurricane that was supposed to hit Florida that evening. We saw it at the edge of the horizon – band of grayish black set against the white crowned crests of the ocean stretching out toward the edge of the world – flashing epileptic white like cameras at the Academy Awards – ominous like the harbringers of God. He was all around us – in the sounds, the expanse of frothy ocean and in the peace and bliss we were drowning in.
The vacationers that had dotted the beach an hour before were gone, cowards that they were. The tide was coming in inexorably. The waves were curling twelve feet tall and angry – and yet, they were comforting. We were in it, digging our feet into the sand, sinking deeper with every wave, playing a game where the person knocked furthest back by the waves took another drink from his beer. I wasn’t doing very well.
Mike looked at me and said, “Robi, you suck at this game,” and forgot to look at the next wave coming in.
The wave crashed over his head and he lost his balance and got carried away by the ebb, flat on his back and laughing wildly with glee. The beer was gone, chugged up by the water. He looked like driftwood.
My mother would have said, “This is Yoga mated to Karma.” My dad would have said, “We can float on water if we just lie on our back and don’t move a muscle.”
Andy and I threw our beers into the ocean, jumped into the ebb and lay down and followed Mike’s example, happy and content, meditating in the midst of a hurricane. All our cares were forgotten. The Atlantic returned us to shore. We were at peace.