In-Sight: Glimpsing Another World

When I see dolphins or other sea mammals break the surface of the ocean, I feel I am not only observing a magnificent sight, but also experiencing a parable about the soul.

For less than a second, the fish sees “another world,” but then plunges back into the water to live in the world created for it. I wonder what it thinks about what it has seen in only a flash.

It also uses the moment to come up for air, but the oxygen from this world is given to allow the dolphin to survive in the sea.

Similarly, our souls “break the surface” and catch a momentary glimpse of another world.  It is enough to provide us the sense that we are part of something larger, and from that other world our spirits inhale God’s oxygen to sustain us.

But we are made for the sea–for this world.  In fact, like the dolphins, if we end up on the beach, something is wrong–as is any hyper-spirituality that gives more attention to the “other world” than the one we’re created to live in.

Life in the ocean is the place dolphins are made for, just as humans are made for land. Ah, but those momentary glimpses are enough to put other impressions in them–and enough to put a sense of larger things in us. 

Good mystics are like dolphins–content to live where they are created to live, but always ready for “breakthroughs” and “oxygen” to sustain their journey.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books.
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5 Responses to In-Sight: Glimpsing Another World

  1. Boyer Writes says:

    Steve, this is so true! If only we had a glimpse of the world that God has prepared for us. Blessings to you and jeannie.

  2. Shelley says:

    Pastor Steve, May I touch on this analogy in my upcoming sermon on Sunday? Thanks and peace!

  3. Shelley says:

    Amen! Thank you Lord for the much needed ‘oxygen’ and ‘breakthroughs’! This is what we do have to hold on to, amid a world in turmoil.

  4. Gary says:

    Abba Steve, With your permission I would like to use this as one illustration about prayer for this coming Sunday’s Gospel reading. I will credit you – ever so briefly . 🙂 Love to you and Jeannie! Gary J.+

  5. Bruce Baxter says:

    Thank you, Dr. Harper. I got so much out of your parable of the soul in your discussion of dolphins glimpsing another world. Great post!.

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