“Mightier than the breakers of the sea…” – Psalm 93: 4
Geoffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation, the cleaning supplies company, says that he has mighty hope. He remembers trying to sell “expensive toilet paper and detergent that doesn’t get your clothes clean” in the early years.
“It was a hard sell, to convince people to spend more money on a product that was less toxic and less efficient.” Efficiency matters so much that we are willing to sacrifice the breakers of the sea.
Like the ubiquitous water bottle, and its offspring, the personal water bottle, efficiency and portability are the altars at which our cultural and political economy worship. The personal bottle is only “less bad” than the disposable one: it still worships portability, as though we couldn’t find the time to eat or drink at home or use a public fountain. We are people on the move, so much so that the oceans are being industrialized and humans are being dehydrated.
Still, we imagine a mighty God, one who doesn’t want just to accommodate and make things less bad but who offers us the power, like that of Creation, in which we can break to open, like a wave.
What is transformation? It is not going from vanilla to chocolate or disposable to portable. Transformation is going from vanilla to music or disposable and portable to waves. Transformation is a big, not a small, turning.
We aren’t really people who worship at the altars of portability and efficiency. We are people who want to surf the waves with the Almighty.
Break us with a force equal to the breakers, O God, and lead us to the balance that rides the waves. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.