The waves thrum faint from outside the beach house. I open the window just a little, letting the damp salt wind sift through the bedroom, and the rhythm of the surf roll in.
It calls me; changing colors and changing tides tugging me out of my busy mind.
Green mutes to gray as the sun drops below the cloud line. Grays, blues and sandy browns, filigreed with white spray and dotted with early lights from the shrimp boats, invite me to still the whirl of the day.
Does eternity sound like waves on a beach?
I sleep deeply at night, rocked back to dreams, each time I wake. There’s rich comfort in the crash and pull of the surf outside.
Come morning I step out into the sand, it’s outer crust warm from the new sun, and head along the coast, caught in the trifecta of sky, sea, and sand. Cold tendrils from the incoming tide swirl around my legs as I walk this hallowed ground.
I’ve tumbled back to this shoreline, wrung out by the latest challenges in life, to take stock, come back home to me, and press my footprints into the ever turning sand, yet again.
The waves roll, crash, pause, and roll again, washing away my steps with foam tipped edges. This beach line is my portal. It’s the thread connecting so many seasons, interlacing the miles I’ve walked along this sloped shore, my steps stitching decades together in this sacred gathering place.
Who am I? What am I here to share?
These questions always follow me. Today is no exception. The ocean unmoors me, loosing me from the bonds of daily life, and setting me adrift outside of time and place.
I’m so far from the little girl who used to run, arms wide opened, straight into the waves. The years weigh on me. I feel fragile, damaged, more so than the ache in my back since the surgery would explain. My legs strain against the loose sand, pushing hard for each step. Everything is effort.
How did I get so far away from my own heart? How did I get lost in ‘doing’ again? I’m empty. A cracked and worn shell, tossed up on the beach.
This is a hard love; the changing face of the ocean reflecting my own changes. I don’t want to look. I want to go back to the ecstasy and innocence of childhood, so far out of reach. The scent of the ocean swirls that child back to me, whispers that she’s not gone. The ocean herself has always been carrying her for me. Nothing I’ve ever brought to these waters is lost. She carries every version of me that ever walked her shores.
Some small comfort, as I breathe in the air, and hear the echoes of my own past in the birds’ cries.
The waves push on as I walk the shoreline, breaking and breaking without end, their incessant motion almost frightening. I don’t want to keep going. I want to sit, to bleed out everything that isn’t for me now, and refill with the life that is mine.
My footprints walk this too, into the sand, imprinting the pain, the exhaustion, the emptiness onto its face, to have it be swallowed up by the ocean. Maybe I can walk this out of me. Would the ocean hold that, too?
What would I find if I emptied myself?
My life seems small from the vantage point of looking across the water. The things I strive for sift into sand and are blown away.
It takes three days of sleeping, waking, walking, resting, before a tiny ember glows out of the banked ashes of my heart. I bring that to holy line of sky, sea, and sand. Give that to the endless waves. Only the ocean gives it back to me. She doesn’t quench it, but reflects it, like sun sparkles on the water. And the ember grows.
The wind blows the ashes away, and the empty place inside warms.
The walking doesn’t take as much effort. Now I sit, too. Looking out at the blue green of the water, the small birds with their impossibly long legs rushing towards the receding waves, to gobble tiny creatures whose bubbles give away their location in the wet sand.
There’s enough stillness in me to stop walking and be.
I breathe in the salt air, feeling the warmth spread inside me.
Looking over my life, a new path opens up. Demanding… but alive. I look for next steps, and find them.
And I sit, drinking a cocktail of fear and hope, pulling strength from my fingers and toes dug into damp ground. There’s not enough of me yet to move from this place. The glow in my chest is still tiny. The fragile is still real, only now I guard this spark in my heart, terrified lest it be quenched. Healing happens in its own time, and I know better than to rush it.
The relentless waves no longer feel frightening, but reassuring.
Outside the details and drama of life, I have place. Intrinsic. As much a part of my being as the ember in my heart.
I slip out of time, listening to echoes of long gone hopes and fears sound in the waves. I am none of them, yet they are all part of my dance. A story played out along a lifetime.
I lean over to pick up a worn and tumbled shell, its edges soft in my hand.
I belong. In every season of my life, I belong.
The ocean has never answered the questions I bring her. But the answer she gifts to me is the one I need.
I soak it in, knowing it will nourish me long after my own tide had pulled me, yet again, from these shores.