A Wave I’d like to Catch


I'm reading about waves. 
I brought along on my sabbatical Susan Casey's book The Wave, her sweeping and riveting account of mammoth waves from Tahiti to northern Scotland, from Hawaii to Alaska, From Cape Town to Lisbon, and her collage of portraits of the scientists who study them, the underwriters who insure against them, and above all the half-mad adventurers called big-wave surfers who chase them around the globe to fling themselves headlong into their wild unforgiving hearts. I had, last year, read Casey's The Devil's Teeth, her equally riveting account of the great white sharks off California's Farallon Islands, and found it wondrous and terrifying enough to pick up her most recent volume. I'm not disappointed.
I never knew there was so much to know about bumps in the water – or how big those bumps can get (in 1958, in Lituya Bay, Alaska, a wave roused up by a massive earthquake which set off a massive landslide rose to an astonishing 1,740 feet; as astonishing, four of the people on two of the three small fishing vessels harbored in the bay lived to tell the tale). 
All of it makes for a compelling read – a kind of whodunit joined to an espionage thriller joined to a life-at-the-edge dispatch. What I find most gripping – it's the story Casey keeps circling back to – are the portraits of the big-wave surfers. These are not the stereotypical air-head party-boys often associated with the ilk. Off the water, they are philosopher-poets of the mysteries of storm and ocean. But on the water, they are aquatic daredevils. Tsunami warriors. They are men (and a few women) who run for the sea when all others are running from it. They are those for whom the pulsing magenta blob in the centre of a storm reading is good news of great joy: it means somewhere, soon, monster waves 60, 70, 80 feet at their crest will crash on some breakwater, and if they fly through the night and care nothing about sleep, they might just be there to meet it and ride it. 
This is the story, really, of a small band of death-defiers who play at the edge of destruction. They spare no expense. They fly in the face of terror. They risk life and limb. It would be easy to dismiss it all as juvenile testosterone-fueled frivolity, except it is so downright awe-inspiring. 
Frankly, it's convicting. I would love to think I have given myself this unreservedly to the cause of the gospel, but really? I can get put off by the smallest obstacle, intimidated by the least resistance. My heart can quaver at the first sign of disturbance. But to actually see the worst the devil or the earth can throw at you, to actually go looking for it, and then to aim straight for it? 
It's a wave I'd love to catch.

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6 thoughts on “A Wave I’d like to Catch

  1. Oh my! You have no idea how I needed those words. I've been wrestling, bleary-eyed through day and much of night, with my heart, obsticles of life, and the undeniable drum beat of Father love calling me. How do you fly to a country uninvited, with few resources, to offer love to people whose location you are only vaguely sure of. But I know, I know, it's the thin place I'm searching for. I know because the Holy Spirit keeps nagging me, whispering that his eye is honed in on Serbia. And I wrestle from shrinking back with the neighbor needing hope and the homosexual cousin needing grace and truth. Thank you for the refreshing!

  2. Mark, I blog with another Christian leader who posted this blog several days ago that had such huge impact. I won’t forget it! Your blog post reminded me of his, only yours takes it one step further … actually walking into the storm not just riding it out. Hmmm, great food for thought! Here is the article I’ve copied and pasted.
    “Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore . . .”
    ~ Ephesians 6:13-14
    “If your foundations are in Jesus Christ, then you can weather the storm. You can endure the crisis. You can walk through the fire. Because you are standing on Him who is the immovable Rock.
    Sometimes God will deliver you from trouble. Other times He will deliver you through it.
    But resurrection is always on the other side . . . if you stand and endure.
    A spiritual (Spirit-led) man or woman is someone who has faced tragedy, who has faced loss, who has looked unbearable and exquisite pain in the face and the worst that life can throw at a human . . . and they have stood their ground.
    With their garments still smoking, they have said before God, mortals, and angels: “It is well with my soul. The enemy has thrown his best at me and I’m still here. I’m still on the Rock. I’ve not sunk. I’m still standing. I’ve not been destroyed. I’ve not gone under. I will continue to follow my Lord, come hell or Hiawatha. He is still on the throne!”
    Having done all, stand. Stand therefore . . . on the Rock that never moves.
    Be encouraged, dear child of God. If the Lord is for you, who can be against you.”…
    Thanks for the message … in my life at least there seems to be a recurring theme coming at me to remain strong and have unwavering faith through very concerning circumstances.
    Have a good day. Oh, I’m still waiting for Cheryl’s blog on the ‘thin place’.

  3. Dear Mark,
    This is Rachel Martens, that girl who used to be inspired by you as a young teenage at first Baptist in Vernon! Peggy and Al's nice.  Still feeling connected and appreciating your gifts.  I was on the bus the other day and a sweet woman asked me how to pronounce a word in a book she was reading.  I asked if I could read the whole sentence to better understand the word.  As i read aloud, I continued, led by curiosity and was shocked to feel the truth shaking through the words out onto the bus with us.  Wow!  I turn over the book to see who it was by, and there you are.  By Mark Buchanan.  
    Grace works.
    Thanks for showing up.  Warm hug and please put me on a maling list that will share your insights/words/heart!  JOY

    • Rachel Martens! How bendigideg, as the Welsh say. I think of you often. It is so great to hear from you. Where are you living? How are you? It would be wonderful to connect in person somewhere, sometime, somehow. I'm currently in Wales, on sabbatical (and writing a novel). Back on Vancouver Island in July. 
      Hello to your parents, and to Peggy & Al.
      Thanks for tracking me down, and for your kind words.