Today was Theophany, or Epiphany, the “twelfth day of Christmas” for those of you keeping count. It marks not Jesus Christ’s baptism, but really the manifestation of the holy trinity to the world.
As John the Forerunner baptized Jesus in the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Lord spoke, identifying His Son. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all in one place.
Anyway, in the Orthodox Church, we have a Theophany tradition, usually in warm places, where the priest throws a cross into the ocean and young people dive in to get it. Today, our priest explained the symbolism of this ritual, something I never knew.
The ocean is meant to symbolize the world. The ocean is rough, unsteady, rarely calm, deep, dark, turbulent, and full of things that want to kill us.
No wonder I hate deep sea creatures. Outer space is where it’s at, baby.
Anyway, the cross thrown into the ocean represents Jesus Christ plunging into the world for mankind’s salvation. And the divers are people seeking after Him.
It might seem a bit forced, but the church is full of symbolism. And they use symbolism because, like most storytelling, it sticks. And I rather like the idea of the world being like the ocean, perpetually at unrest, perpetually shifting . . . enough to make you queasy. It fits. As does the idea of something solid and permanent, the cross, being thrown into its midst.
Even if you’re not a believer, the world as an ocean is very fitting. Dark things lurk beneath. Better be prepared.