Is There a Link Between Religion and Surfing?
Religion, God, and Spirituality may all have connections to surfing. These surfers believe they have found faith in the waves.
A feeling of wholeness, giving your physical body up to a higher power, and baptismal splash into refreshing water. These are just some of the experiences that are shared by religious people and those who go surfing. In fact, the comparison has become so prominent in recent years that it has been likened to communion in many articles and editorials. The comparison has not escaped the notice of members of all different religions, who see some form of power or deity every time they hit the waves.
Even Kelly Slater, the “King of Surfing,” says surfing is a spiritual experience:
“For me it’s sort of like time slows down. You become hyper aware of a lot of different things — the way the wave is breaking, timing, putting yourself in the right part of the barrel. It takes all of your mental capacity to do it just right.”
God In The Waves
One of the most interesting pieces written on this concept is called “Is God A Goofyfoot?” and examined whether surfing could be considered an actual religion. The author said that he had personally read hundreds of letters from individuals who felt that there was a definite spiritual aspect to surfing. Between the draw to enter into the water, a long-held symbol of rebirth in many religions, and the contentment felt upon leaving, it seems as though there may just be some substance to this idea.
Surfing is also viewed as a metaphor for religious experiences and remains a concept as broad as life. Surfers wade out into an open water, spending much more time floundering in the water than they ever will experiencing true moments of bliss. Yet, when they catch that perfect wave the feeling is one of total wholeness and learning, until they inevitably end up in the water again. It is a beautiful way of relating the spiritual and the secular, and many individuals within established religions are inclined to agree.
Religions And Surfing
One of the most interesting forms of surfer lore that has surfaced in regards to the link to religion is the apparent conversions that occur. One example shows a priest who took up surfing at 70 and then began to preach the benefits and ties to spirituality. In fact, this outlook has become so accepted within the surfer community that there is an annual Blessing of the Waves. This is a multi-denominational blessing that revels in the sacred powers of water and the ability to reach out in a spiritual sense while surfing the waves.
Among those religions that have come out for the dedication are Jews, Muslims, Christians, Unitarians, and Sikhs; all who have come to agree that there is some religious experience to be had amongst the waves. The Blessing of the Waves also has a conservationist tilt to it, with a strong desire to preserve the oceans for the future.