Lost in wonder

After a surfing weekend, Simon Smart ponders those moments where our breath is taken away by the sheer awe of life and existence.

“How strange it was to see men doing something beautiful. Something pointless and elegant.” (Tim Winton, Breath)

I’ve just returned from an annual surfing weekend on the south coast of NSW with some mates. Green Island at Cunjurong Point is a fabled surfing Mecca with a point break over a reef adjacent to a small rocky island. It’s a long paddle to where the waves break, and it feels wild and exhilarating to be out there, looking back towards the beach and Pigeon House Mountain in the distance.

With the right conditions, a perfectly stable left hander peels across the reef offering long walls that make it well worth the four-hour drive from Sydney.

I was there on Sunday—a crisp, bright winter’s morning with seven friends and about 15 others. The waves were clean and water astonishingly clear. You could see straight to the bottom and the startlingly turquoise reef.

And as if that wasn’t enough, a pod of about ten dolphins came along to join us. They were catching waves; gliding past us so close you could hear their breathing. Young surfers are usually taciturn and cool but one guy paddling alongside me, eyes wide, couldn’t hide his astonishment.

It reminded me of how Biblical scholar and poet, Eugene Peterson describes wonder as the launching pad for a spirituality of creation, keeping us alert to the “giftedness” and “goodness” of life.

We all have our moments where our breath is taken away by the sheer awe of life and existence. And when we do, it’s good to have someone to thank.