Monday, March 7, 2022


Image by Mike Hiironniemi

Great is your steadfast love towards me; you have delivered my soul from the depths.
(Psalm 86:13)

From the fathomless deep I have called to you, God.
Listen to the innermost depths of my voice. I look for you, my soul looks for you wildly, I wait for your word of response. My soul longs for you more than the watchman at the gate longs for morning, more than the tired watchman at the gate longs for the first flicker of dawn.
(Psalm 130:1-2;5-6 *adapted by Pamela Greenberg in Complete Psalms)


In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
(Genesis 1:1-2)

Companion God,
Understander of our living,
Forgiver of our failings,
Inspirer of our best efforts,
Encourager of our fearful selves,
We think of the oceans, seas, lakes, wetlands,
rivers, creeks, waterholes, of our lives.
Their essential place in our very survival....
Help us to find the like-minded people, the sacrificial souls,
the energy-filled campaigners, the struggling causes,
the visionaries who not only plumb the deep with new technology,
but save the planet in sometimes tiny acts.
Encourage us to love,
in Jesus name.
- from "Prayer for the Oceans" by Mary Heinemann
found on

God upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
(Psalm 145:14)

"Shipbreaking, Chittagong, Bangladesh" by Edward Burtynsky (2000)

In the biblical story, ’the deeps’ are the first water body to be created. In Genesis 1, darkness is covering the face of the deep and wind is covering the face of the waters and they are both connected to the presence of God (the Hebrew word for ‘face’, also means ‘God’s presence’). The deeps came first in the formation of heaven and earth, emerging out of the ‘formless void”. Water is the connective essence of all Creation. In the biblical story, only God has control over the deeps. In our own life in the twenty-first century, however, humankind is in direct control of the wellbeing of sea life. Last week, a ship, carrying four thousand luxury cars bound for the United States — caught fire and sank in the Atlantic ocean near the Azores Islands. Although all crew members were rescued, the vessel and luxury cars now lie at the bottom of the sea. Climate scientists worry about their long range impact on the Azores, a delicate ecosystem that is home to coral forests and several species of whales and tuna. While some shipwrecks can become helpful refuge for marine animals to find habiltation, a six hundred foot long vessel carrying twenty-two hundred gallons of fuel poses a dramatic threat. Perhaps more startling than this accident, is knowing that it is not the first time. This is the fifth sinking of an ocean going container ship just since the new year. Pandemic shopping and supply chain delays have put pressure on shipping: in an effort to get more product overseas faster, ships are pressed beyond their limits. Half a world away from the Azores in Chittagong, Bangladesh, lies one of the biggest ship breaking ports in the world, where retired container vessels are brought to be broken up and recycled. This important work used to be done in the United States and Europe but when environmental regulations and restrictions were introduced, the industry moved to where labour is inexpensive and there are almost no environmental protections. Bangladeshi men work long and tireless hours, exposed to chemicals including asbestos, and sustaining injuries, for very little pay. Edward Burtynsky’s photograph, taken twenty years ago, captures the reality. In today's music, Royal Ballet star Francesca Hayward dances underwater in a film meant to draw attention to mental health. As her body twists and turns in a column of light, she captures that space between being and knowing, fear and change. How do we raise ourselves up from the depths of the degradation we have subjected our oceans to? Psalm 130 is known as a ‘de profundis prayer’, meaning 'out of the depths'. ‘My soul waits for you wildly,’ are the words in Pamela Greenberg’s version. What if we imagine this cry coming from the sea itself and all its creatures, waiting for us to do something? This Lent, how can we be challenged to fast from consumerism, so that God’s created world of wonder does not fall back into a formless void?

Image by Francois Libert

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