Marine Mammals as Metaphors for Spiritual Living

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I have been wondering lately about the interface between the material and spiritual worlds and how they connect. It may sound strange, but I just wonder what it looks like and how functions, and I think God may give us clues or metaphors as to what it is like. All metaphors do break down and fail if taken too far, though, so these are just some thoughts.

On Sunday I was imagining that the entire ocean represented the material universe, and the sky represents the spiritual realm. I had a picture in my mind of dolphins…how they are built for the water, yet are completely dependent on the air above their world. I think it is a wonderful picture of humanity’s dependence on God.

Just as it is essential for the dolphin to come to the surface for air, it struck me how essential it is for us to come to the surface for God’ Spirit. The air, when you think about it, is essentially separate to water. Bubbles of air don’t press into and  descend down into the depths. Small amounts of the gases may dissolve at the surface and diffuse slowly downward, but actual bubbles do not . Yet a mammal can inhale and carry a relatively large quantity of that air around with them wherever and as deep as they want to go. That is the only way (outside of man’s intervention) that a large quantity of air can move around below the surface of the ocean—inside of a mammal.

In the same way, we too can take from God what he gives us through His Bible and prayer, and bring it into a physical world that really has only a shadow of spirituality. And, in the same way, the air is slowly used up and we must return to the surface for spirituality. The air is not something we can produce in our bodies, but are completely dependent to return to God. Given this metaphor, it is not hard for me to image Jesus being fully man and fully God. Just as air, foreign to ourselves, fills our lungs and keeps us alive, so could the Holy Spirit completely and fully fill the material body of Jesus.

If indeed this ocean picture holds, I wondered what God sees as he looks out over the surface vast ocean of the world. Humanity coming here and there to the surface for life…or staying below in the depths, spiritual lungs burning in want. I wondered if, when God sees us in worship, he sees us like dolphins, breaking through the surface, flipping and twisting in playfulness in the air…only to fall back down into the physical world, unable to maintain, at least for the moment, a permanent place in the spiritual world.

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