Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.~Simone Weil
We stayed for hours. The South Carolina Aquarium sits on the edge of the Charleston Harbor. From its balconies one can peer out over the horizon and observe sailboats drifting across the blue waters, gaze upon white cloud banks. Feel an ocean breeze upon your face, inhale the tang of salt. My grandchildren and I moved from the structure's terraces into its lavish walls filled with the glory of God's creatures.
We stood mesmerized as sunlight poured into a large tank, highlighting brown spots on a giant sea turtle's face as she swam elegantly through the water. Sharks, too, with their pointed snouts, gray and stealthy. And beautiful. Schools of angel fish, yellow and black markings like artistic brushstrokes. Orange coral. We feasted together at this dazzling table of ocean delights. We didn't hurry, perhaps one of life's greatest luxuries.
And then we entered "The Shallows." This area is a large pool filled with sting rays. One can dip their hands in the cool water and with two fingers gently touch the backs of the exquisite creatures. Initially, we leaned over the tank's walls and cautiously dipped our fingers into the pool. The rays swam by us, their lovely bodies undulating through the water like sea angels. Our timidity soon evaporated as we plunged our hands further down and ran our fingers over their gray backs, slick and firm. Soon we could not get enough, the wonder in petting the rays bringing us immense delight. We bent shoulder to shoulder over the tank, often turning sideways to look at one another and exclaim our pleasure, our sheer enjoyment in these dignified and graceful sea creatures.
I found this description of the rays at thegardenisland.com: The Hawaiian name for the manta ray is 'hahalua" which means "two breaths," and this gentle giant of the sea has a long history with the Hawaiian people, many of whom feel the manta ray represents wisdom, grace, strength and flow. In the company of each other, amidst these marvelous creatures, we experienced the purest form of God's generosity. His unmixed attention.