DISCOVERING THE SACRED BOND THAT CONNECTS SURFERS TO WATER.
From the dawn of time humans have always had a special relationship with water. Our body is made of 70% water, it grows as a fetus in water and tends to spend its life chasing it (the sea, lake or ocean) whenever is looking for positive emotions. We spend our holidays at the seaside or lakeside and we feel a mysterious longing for water. Water shifts our mood and relaxes our thoughts. Culturally speaking, it embodies significant archetypal meanings and religious symbols.
That’s why it’s interesting to understand the strong bond between the surfer and its element.
The practice of surfing as we know it now was discovered in late 1950s, but it’s commonly accepted that the sport was spawned out of the Pacific, in Hawaii, some 800-years ago. The “Sport of Kings” was practiced by the chiefs of those ancient tribes and everyone was allowed to share those joyful moments of naked connection with the primal element.
Today, as then, most surfers describe this practice as sacred experience.
Surfer and author Steve Kotler deals with the topic in his book “West of Jesus”:
“At the far end of this spectrum are the surfers who believe that since the ocean was the place where life began on this planet, the act of riding on a wave allows the surfer to momentarily connect with this living memory. […] surfing gives the surfer access to the collective unconscious of the planet.”
Father Christian Mondor, Franciscan friar and Catholic priest referred to as “The Surfing Priest”, after taking in surfing on his 70th birthday, commented during 2012 “Blessing of the Waves” ceremony:
“In the religious symbolism, water is one of the great images of life and energy. It’s a symbol of God’s presence.”
What a better way to feel God’s presence than being immersed in water in the middle of the ocean.
With the development of the sport, many surfers became almost mystical. These “soul surfers” consider their practice as a lifestyle, a connection with their inner self, a moment of quiet contemplation in between the waves in a place that alternates stillness and activity. Here the link with nature is strong. The rhythm of the ocean is compared to the rhythm of the body: a natural flow between our body, mind and nature. The unpredictability of the ocean and its power teach the surfer the meaning of acceptance, patience and appreciation of the natural beauty. When the surfer catches a wave everything stops in an everlasting moment filled with joy and inner serenity, in complete harmony with the world around him.
Speaking from experience, I have to say that whenever I take off on a wave I feel as that authentic moment of bliss could last forever. Everyday problems are far away and in that instant I am my purest self, following the motion of nature. I won’t call it religion, but I believe it definitely is some sort of deep spiritual connection we, as humans, have with water.
Text by Marta Tomasini