Surfing as Prelude to NFP by Gary Schuberg

November 23, 2022 Article by  

Before you scoff at this notion, be mindful that one of the world’s finest Catholic apologists, Peter Kreeft, penned a book under the title, I Surf, Therefore I Am. Ten years ago I left that book aboard the Southern Cross, a surf charter boat, in the surfing mecca of the world, Mentawaii Islands. Surfers understand flowing with nature. I hope that book has inspired at least a few surfers to look deeper into the lineups in the Ments and see the Architect of all those perfect waves.

Gary Schuberg enjoying our California surf

A point Mr. Kreeft makes in his book is that only an intelligent, loving and magnificent Creator could have thought up something as delightful, beautiful and mysterious as surfing waves. If, in His infinite wisdom, His creation included this glorious and artful play with the waves stirred by His hand, there are deeper mysteries to be discovered. Some of those mysteries could lead to accepting His will for the incredible procreative powers He gifts to us

Reflecting back on my many decades entranced by this game of watching the ocean and sky for signs of the next magical day when all elements come together – swell, wind, tide – I have found in this pursuit some intricate truths and lessons that prepared me for living the life asked of me in my marriage to Beth. Among these: patience, delayed gratification, acceptance of and flowing with nature.

Sometimes the ocean is flat. Sometimes the waves are there but destroyed by onshore winds. Sometimes a swell peaks with a full moon fat morning tide and fades before the afternoon low tide can bring your local point alive. One accepts these obstacles and delayed gratification, appreciating the more when all things come together. Though the comparison is, of course, trivial, this patience has helped me understand that we conceive hoped for children on God’s time, not our own. When, with prayer and spiritual advice, we find God’s will calls us to abstinence, a surfer can be more practiced at accepting when the conditions are just not right.

As you have often read in the pages of this quarterly letter, sterile contraceptive sex can lead to excess and the resulting demystifying, desacralizing and demoralizing of the power of sex. Delayed gratification leads to appreciating the good, the powerful, the magnificent. Always “gratified” leads to enervated feelings of sterility and resentment. I think of Kelly Slater’s wave pool in Central California, where it is always six feet, glassy and perfect, every time they fire up the wave machine. Fun for a while, but ultimately sapped of joy for being always available.

Living in Oahu in the early 70’s a fellow busboy and surfer came to work all jacked up on something. He asked me with intensity why I did not try this “totally natural and totally non-addictive” thing that was becoming all the rage on the North Shore – cocaine. My response (OK, this is where I will sound like the kind of surfer you see on the screen): “Dude, I get totally high on the natural energy of waves sweeping across the reef at Sunset Beach!” All my life the surfers most admired were those who flowed with the energy and danced with the waves. NFP makes us aware of the flow, power, and joy of life and the greatest creative gift God gave to us: cooperating in his power to unite ourselves with our spouses and be His partners in being open to and creating life.

Ah, what a life it is to flow with the waves He created on His oceans and in our natures!

Gary Schuberg, Vice President of the Executive Board, is a passionate supporter of CANFP, pro-life advocate, businessman, but most of all, husband to Beth, father to their ten children, grandfather to their 21 grandchildren…and yes, surfer.