Dolphins and Waiting

“So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm.” —Genesis 1:21.


I wake up too late to see the sun-rising spectacle on the Gulf of Mexico, but it is still quiet with only the blue heron and pelicans and sea gulls stirring about. A lone “Share the Beach” sea turtle volunteer now arrives with her stethoscope to monitor the walled-off clutch of turtle eggs just in front of our condominium. A second turtle volunteer in a green shirt arrives from a different direction. They are conferencing. They think tonight may be the night.

I just want to sit. Something keeps me from checking my email or going over my prepared morning sermon one more time. I just wait. Something tells me to wait.

There are not words to describe what soon happens A white fishing boat motors, then pauses, then motors on the horizon. On either side, in front and behind the boat, are at least five or six dolphins swimming, jumping out of the water beside the boat! My instinct is to yell out to the fishermen to turn off their motors. I don’t want the dolphins to get caught in an engine.

Are these dolphins being trained for some aquarium? They follow so closely. The fishermen don’t seem to be observing the dolphins. This must be old hat to them. I don’t see them throwing fish to entice the dolphins to follow the boat. The boat turns around and the dolphins follow, pursuing the boat until it is out of sight.

The sighting was brief but revealed something I had never considered before. I Google “why dolphins follow boats.” This may not be an uncommon occurrence, but it was new to me. It is called “bow riding” when dolphins surf in the wave created by boats, and “wake riding” when dolphins swim along and surf in the waves created by the back of boats. Google cannot explain it, but suggests the dolphins are just playing and enjoying the surf. What a novel idea. Nature is affirming our need to play.

Later at church I talk to our old friend Chan, who knows all about the sea. She thinks the fishing boat probably was a shrimp trawler, and that after gathering the shrimp, the fishermen throw the rest of the sea’s treasure back. It becomes a feast for dolphins. Dolphins have learned instinctively to follow these boats and wait for the catch of the day. So the dolphin show could have been related to food rather than fun—but could it be both?

That evening at sunset I sit again in silence. I keep thinking about how I was instinctively able that morning to sit by the sea and wait and watch for the dolphins instead of getting caught up in the agenda for the day. Synchronicity, serendipity: the occurrence of events that appear significantly related. Now I don’t know if my expectancy was related to the dolphin spectacle that unfolded; but I am staying open, especially to more sitting and waiting and watching by the sea.


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Book Signing Wordsworth Books

Saturday, November 2, 2019 1 to 3 pm

Just in time for the holidays

A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany

The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter

Both are $18. Money from sale of the books goes to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast