The Red Sea Dolphin

April 24, 2020 by Gregg DeMey

The Israelites went through the sea on dry ground,
with a wall of water on their right and on their left. - Exodus 14:29

I occasionally wonder what it would be like to be a fish or a bird. As a ground-bound human, I would love to soar through the air like any humble sparrow can at a moment’s notice or to swim through life virtually weightless like a perch finning for fare.

The longer the current “Shelter-in-place” rules stay in effect, the more my imagination wanders.

In high school, a chapel speaker once read a short story about the crossing of the Red Sea from the perspective of a Red Sea dolphin. The author wondered how those dolphins would have perceived so many humans crossing their habitat on dry ground.

The Book of Exodus says that God made a way through the sea by stacking a “wall of water” on the left and right. I imagine dolphins and other sea creatures swimming right up -- or possibly through! -- the edge of that miraculous, temporary barrier to check out Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and the rest of the Israelite crew. Perhaps the dolphins whistled and clicked messages back and forth to one another: “Really, Fineas, you need to come over. I’ve never seen anything like it!”

I’m sure the amazement went both ways. I’m told that the Red Sea is one of the best spots for scuba diving on the entire planet. The underwater ecosystem there is both incredibly diverse and colorful. I imagine Moses and the newly-freed slaves being dazzled by the show of tropical color and the cacophony of coral structures even while being terrified of the Egyptian army that was still trying to track them down.

Spoiler alert! The Israelites did make it to the other side and soon the contrast between life under the sea and above ground became starkly clear to everyone. Ten steps off the beach into the Sinai Wilderness and the colors completely fade. Life disappears. Water dries up. Hard living begins.

I believe our society is in a corporate experience analogous to this. We are -- even now -- taking the first bewildered steps into a wilderness period where everything has changed. As we make our first tenuous steps on this new landscape, few of us love it. Some days it seems as if the colors are fading. Life is disappearing. Water is drying up. Harder living has begun.

Like the Red Sea dolphins of old, I have the sense that some of our own local wildlife might be a little curious about what we humans are doing (or not doing) these days. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a beaver playing in Salt Creek, a coyote trotting through the Elmhurst CRC parking lot, and a pair of reclusive wood ducks paddling in the pond on the east side of church. The animals can’t help but be curious about what’s going on with the people.

Lord willing, we can join with nature’s curiosity and wonder what God might be up to, and where he’s leading us (I’m sketching a map!), and what it might mean. I’m confident that walking faithfully and curiously through this time will reveal some of God’s new wonders.

God’s blessings to you for open eyes and a curious mind,
Pastor Gregg

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