Excited for an experience, there I was, crazy early last Thursday morning, bobbing in the sea patiently waiting for dolphins.
We’d all met at 5:45am, loaded up the cars with excited, and some anxious, youth and adults to go searching for dolphins. As the sun slowly rose, we drove west almost to the end of the island. I could see dolphins from the road. “They’re here!” I shouted. My voice joined others who saw the dolphins frolicking across the sea.
We sat our gear on the beach and set out into the water at various speeds on paddle boards, kayaks, swimming/snorkeling, or like me swimming/snorkeling with a boogie board in case I’m about ready to die because I’m not a super strong swimmer, but there’s no way I’m missing this.
The snorkeling wasn’t that great, only a few fish were nosing around. All of my attention focused on getting to the spot in the water where I’d seen dolphins the last time friends and I swam with the dolphins.. And then, with others swimming up alone or in groups, we waited.
A friend, on her paddle board spotted them across the way. We swam furiously, following her as fast as we could.
I started hearing shrieks of excitement. I bemoaned my blind-without-glasses, near-sighted fate. But I didn’t give up hope, because I’d seen them before and even if I caught a glimpse, I’d thought I’d be satisfied.
The dolphins whizzed around the water to the delight of those who caught a glimpse and the consternation to those who didn’t. Unsurprisingly, they swam faster than we did.
Finally, I saw five or six dolphin fins gleaming above the water. I excitedly shouted like all the others. It’s such a surreal and beautiful thing. The dolphins raced passed us. We turned, and swam the other direction after them.
Knowing I couldn’t keep up with dolphin pace, I put my mask on to see if I could see them underwater. My brain exploded as I realized I swam on top of the pod!! Adrenaline propelled me forward and I started telling everyone around me to look underwater.
Some of the young women and moms who came didn’t feel comfortable snorkeling, so didn’t wear masks in the water. I told them all I’d let them use my mask—I had a full faced snorkel mask—so they could see the pod underwater. No one took my offer, for a variety of reasons.
We stopped swimming after them and waited for them to swim back by us.
My Happy-O-Meter exploded as I watched seven bodies gliding back to us. I watched as they approached, because it’s so cool, and one might jump and spin at any moment, and then threw my mask back on. To my astonishment, I swam directly above many dolphins. They swam so slowly (or my adrenaline kicked into super high gear) and I counted each of them, large and small—38—with more joining the group from the water above and also below me.
Again, I shouted to my friends and offered to share the mask. With no takers, I just put my head into the water and kicked hard and fast after the pod. Finally, when they were out of sight, I stopped and found myself alone and blissfully happy.
I was soon joined by my almost-a-dolphin friend who can swim as far and fast as the dolphins can coming back towards me. She’d been towing her 10-year-old daughter on a kick board and her daughter wanted to go back to shore. So we swam together and joined church friends excitedly talking about their experiences. Everyone I talked to had a magical time.
Life’s Unique Journeys
For some reason, the gospel lessons that flooded my mind after this experience still flood my mind a week later!
It was such a great metaphor of life for me.
Each person arrived at the beach with different skills, talents, and fears (though shark fear was the predominant fear I heard mentioned.) Each person, if they wanted, had the chance to listen to an expert and get important safety and efficiency tips. Each person could start their swim whenever they wanted.
Each person’s journey and choice were uniquely theirs and perfect for them!
Some folks stayed on the shore and enjoyed viewing the dolphins from the shore. People swam out alone or in twos or in small groups. The adults kept tabs on each of the boys and girls, but allowed them to experience the experience as they wished. People went back to shore as they wished and went home as they wished. Ultimately, everyone was satisfied with their experience.
So that was an easy and beautiful analogy to me.
Will I Experience More?
But my big takeaway that I cannot shake was about the available opportunity to look and see and still experience more. I woke up really early. I made the long journey to the appropriate spot. I saw dolphins from the shore, but I wasn’t satisfied. I maneuvered the shore break and swam and swam. I searched for them again.
I rejoiced to see the sun glistening off of dolphin fins. Was that enough? No. I raced closer. I loved seeing the five to seven dolphins surfacing. But I finally found what I was really seeking by looking underwater. After all of the effort, simply looking underwater exponentially magnified every aspect of my experience.
What if I’d sold myself short on the experience by not taking one more step! I would have rejoiced to just see them on the shore if I wasn’t prepared to swim. But I was prepared to swim. I would have rejoiced to see them gliding past on the surface if I didn’t bring my snorkel mask. But I did bring my snorkel mask. I had the tool and I used it.
There are so many one more steps and available tools that I’m casual or careless about. Several of those came up for me. Would any come up for you?
Now, can’t stop thinking about how I experience everything! Am I looking underwater for the fullest experience I can have to teach me what’s possible, and ultimately find a fullness of joy?
How do I experience relationships? How do I experience joy and sorrow and grief? How do I experience disappointment? Do I try new things? Is my mind growing and expanding or just bobbing aimlessly on the surface?
How do I experience the doctrines of salvation?
Nephi’s lament came to mind.
“And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.”
If I enjoy the beauty of the doctrine at the surface, why wouldn’t I search underwater for more understanding? Am I complacent in feasting on the word? If I’ve “felt to sing the song of redeeming love…can [I] feel so now?” If I’ve looked underwater once, why wouldn’t I do it again and again and again?
I never want the Lord to direct Peter’s stinging rebuke at me “for this they willingly are ignorant of...” The Lord offers the antidote for that kind of ignorance. “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear.” That is such a beautiful image to me.
Will I Experience More with Deity?
How do I experience my relationship with Jesus Christ or God the Father? Am I satisfied with a cursory relationship with Deity? Does an occasional worship satisfy? Or do I dive deeply and committedly into the sea of understanding and relationship and relationship with them?
My searching soul wants to know Them. And the Lord promises that I can.
“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”
To me, the greatest revelation of all, is the revelation of Them.
My favorite scripture rewarding the efforts of swimming underwater is in Doctrine and Covenants 76. Joseph Smith records these verses preluding a vision of the glories of the Godhead, and seeing Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. This is the Lord’s promise to us, to me, to whoever will pay the price—make the journey, take the swim, go underwater…deeper than I’ve ever gone.
“For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations. And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven…
For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man. Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves.”
I see through a “glass darkly” now, through a mask with blind-without-glasses near-sightedness, but I’m looking underwater with all of my heart–underwater to look, see, and experience everything I can at my stage of the journey, anticipating the time when not only can I look and see, but I can know and understand all the things of God, my ultimate fullness of joy.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.