One of the things that I’ve learnt about myself over the years is just how much I love water.
I’m born and bred in an island country in the South Pacific, and in a beautiful city surrounded by coastline and a stunning harbour, so I’ve always been around water.
However, like so many good things in life, I have most definitely taken this for granted and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve fully realised it just how good for my soul that ocean view can be.
Whether it’s going for a run around Wellington’s South Coast by my house, sitting and reading a book at the beach, having a coffee at the waterfront, a long leisurely walk along the coast in the weekend, or going for a drive around the bays when I need to clear my head.
It's amazing how even just half an hour looking out over the water can shift my headspace and perspective on things.
Water restores peace to my soul.
Peace in times of chaos
During a year like 2020, with the impact of Covid-19 causing havoc in our communities, economies, but also in our own minds and mental wellbeing, we all need to find things that are good for our souls and intentionally make time for them.
When New Zealand was in our strictest lockdown, we were still able to leave our homes for exercise in our local area. Although the actual coastline wasn’t considered local to my home, I regularly walked 10 minutes up my street to a little lookout on the hill where the vast blue ocean was spread out in front of me.
With so much chaos going on in the world, looking out over that beautiful water was enough to bring me peace again.
I am so grateful that long before we imagined a nationwide lockdown would be our reality, I learned that time spent by the water is part of my toolbox to cope with the hard things that life throws at me.
The bigger picture
It’s not just the beauty of water that calms my soul though.
It reminds me that I'm one very small piece of a much bigger world.
It reminds me that even when there is uncertainty, tragedy, heartache, terror, corruption, fear, and anger, there is still beauty and good in this world too.
It reminds me that when life is hard, God is still good and blesses me with good gifts, even something as simple as that stunning ocean view.
It reminds me that God loves us so much that he created this beautiful world for us to live in, cherish, look after, and enjoy - what a gift!
And in that moment, peace washes over me and I can choose joy to trump over whatever I’m battling.
Healing waters flow
As I sit and look out over the still water, I’m often reminded of the words of a beautiful Salvation Army hymn:
When shall I come unto the healing waters?
Lifting my heart, I cry to thee my prayer,
Spirit of peace, my Comforter and healer,
In whom my springs are found, let my soul meet thee there.
From a hill I know,
Healing waters flow;
O rise, Immanuel’s tide,
And my soul overflow!
The image of water is used so frequently throughout the Bible to describe the healing and life that Jesus brings.
While we can imagine the beauty of Jesus’ life-giving waters in our own minds as we read the Bible, I am best reminded of this wonderful truth when I can see it with my own eyes.
A vast expanse of blue water gleaming in the sunlight. Alive and perfect.
Indeed my soul does find rest at those healing waters.
Rebecca Howan is from Wellington, New Zealand, where she works as an Executive Assistant in the humanitarian sector. She worships and serves at The Salvation Army, and is passionate about music, travelling the world and building community.
You can read Rebecca’s previous columns at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-howan.html