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Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
— Author Harriet Beecher Stowe

The sea fascinates me. Years ago during spring in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, my wife and I went to sleep each night for a week to the melody of the breakers coming in upon the shore. We ate breakfast every morning on the porch looking out across the vastness of the water. We walked several miles down the beach. We swam out into the deep and then rode the waves back in.

As you live by the ocean for a time, there comes a better understanding of life because the two are so much alike. Life itself has a vastness that is beyond the reach of our sight.

There are many parallels between life and the ocean, but one especially impresses me — the coming and going of the tides. There is no power on earth that can prevent the low and high tides. So it is with an individual life — we experience times of low tide and of high tide, and there is no way to stop these tides. If we realize that we will experience low tides of our spirit, then our moments of depression and discouragement lose much of their terror.

Many times as a counselor I have had phone calls from some frantic people saying, “I must see you today. I just cannot go on.” But often circumstances would be such that I could not see the person that day. Several days later when I had time, I would phone and the person would say, “I feel better now. I’ll be all right.” What happened? The tide had come in.

Sometimes the burdens of sorrow are so heavy we cannot bear them. But sorrow is a natural part of the experience of living. In the midst of this low tide of life, we need to learn to wait for the tide. Our agony is not permanent. Though a dark night seems to be settling down upon you, the morning will come. So we carry on through our sorrow, knowing it will bring us to the brightness of a new day.

I was in New York City a few years ago and saw one of the giant ships of the sea coming in. It was beautiful and powerful and proud. But majestic as it was, that great ship had to wait for the tide before it could come in. The captain was anxious to make port. There were passengers on board who were in a hurry to land. But no matter — they must wait for the tide.

And there are times when we are anxious to make some port of success, to accomplish some task; but also, there are times when we must wait for the tide. But in the waiting, we are certain the tide will rise, and because of that certainty we have faith and hope.

Bob Mueller is Bishop of the United Catholic Church.

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