DEEP IN THE WAVE: A Surfing Guide to the Soul by Bear Woznick with Lou Aronica
A good part of a writer’s job is to read widely.
Tell me my prejudices are showing but I wouldn’t have expected a book about surfing to be spiritual, let alone as spiritual as Bear Woznick’s Deep in the Wave: A Surfing Guide to the Soul. For surfers and non-surfers this book opens the mind and the heart to new challenges and new ways of dealing with the already-expected challenges of life. The book grabs you and won’t let you put it down. But it isn’t for me to do a formal critique of the book, since I know almost nothing of surfing itself.
Everything writers read expands their minds and Deep in the Wave does this more than many other books. I now understand the call of the ocean in a way I didn’t before, even though in years past I answered a different call of my own. If we are open to the Holy Spirit, our souls do respond to the path we are being asked to take for a time and a season.
On a superficial level, I even understand now how surfers can carry out the old sport of tandem surfing developed by the Hawaiians. The women lifted over the men’s heads in extreme acrobatic lifts are close to being fearless, yet they respect the power of the ocean and learn to follow the man’s decision on which wave to catch, particularly when he is the expert for that area of ocean and must safely lift the woman. This is a sport neither I nor my long-time friends would ever undertake if we lived for a million years.
Bear’s deep love of the ocean and amazing God-given talent for surfing shine throughout this autobiography. He even took tandem surfing to international competition level. (Duke Kahanamoku and others brought it back into popularity in the early years of the 20th Century, but it then lost favor during the shortboard revolution of the 60s and 70s, except with Steve and Barrie Boehne who kept it alive.)
Bear’s wild adventures on the longboard equal his passionate search for God, complete with wipeouts! And there have been many of both kinds during his lifetime. His specific views on spirituality may not match everyone else’s (he is Catholic) but that shouldn’t matter to anyone. He is very much a Christian. His love and respect for God and for our Savior, Jesus Christ are honest, heartfelt and unmatched by most people. He’s experienced an ongoing, intimate relationship with God with all the ups and downs, the joys and the rages that involves. You catch his excitement, laugh when he laughs, and weep when he weeps during his personal trials.
Bear may seem larger than life. He has surfed with whales and dolphins, and eyed killer sharks as they circled him on his board. He has surfed open ocean, pedaled his bicycle across the United States, earned his pilot’s license and his skydiving credentials, earned a rare ninja black belt, learned to play the ukulele, and much more. You can read more about this champion surfer’s accomplishments not fully covered in the book (likely because they would shift its focus) at www.bearswave.com. Some links on the site are not active.
Deep in the Wave is a book based on the old teachings of the Old and New Testaments and the early saints of the Catholic Church. (It is not pop culture or pop religion.) For many years, the author has studied with the Benedictine Monastery of Oahu but is also married and has four grown children.
If you have any doubts about being a spiritual person yourself, then listen up. As Bear says, “Being spiritual is not an optional extra. You don’t have a choice. You are living in a spiritual world. The greatest quest a man can undertake is the challenging journey toward intimacy with God … You will be tested with great wipeouts, long hold-downs, and, perhaps worst of all, long seasons where there is just no surf to be found.”
The author is reaching and teaching those folks who would not otherwise consider religion to be important in their lives. It is essential in his.
I recommend the book!