The ocean is my thing. It’s the place where I feel most connected, most at peace. For me, it is a place of reverence, humility, majesty, and spirituality. It is an inconvenient thing to be sure, living in a landlocked part of the country as I so. A few years ago, my husband, an avid diver, and I made a pledge to make our way back to the ocean regularly, to feel gratitude for the gifts and beauty of the Earth and refuel from its power before returning to the day to day demands of our lives.
Then the pandemic hit.
So, this year, during our family vacation, the ocean and I have been getting reacquainted. I’ve been rediscovering her spiritual gifts each morning as I greet the sun in meditation on the beach.
Today, she taught me another wonderful lesson about being human at this juncture in history. I got up early so that she and I might share some time alone before the bustle of vacationers set in. As I settled into my practice, using the sounds of the waves landing on the shore as an anchor, smelling the salty air and the decaying seaweed washed up on the beach, life happened around me.
A small but very loud truck drove by several times, removing the unwanted deposits of seaweed, raking the beach in preparation for the day’s activities.
A large, beautiful family took advantage of the early morning light to have professional pictures taken by the ocean. Several young children in their group had other ideas about time spent on the beach, despite their immaculately pressed dress clothes.
A panicked father lightly touched my arm to ask if I had seen his missing little boy, an act that any desperate parent will understand. (I later witnessed them walking hand in hand along the beach, a stern but loving tone in the father’s voice).
And, beneath it all, the regular, majestic, slurred drum beat of the ocean, waxing and waning on the shore. Predictable, steady, powerful.
I opened my eyes and watched each wave leave the safety of the greater mass and be thrust onto the sand, lingering briefly before returning to the whole.
All these events seemed orchestrated to remind me of the nature of life, particularly during these trying times. The joys and sorrows, the loud and distracting work of life will always continue around us. We can choose to focus on those ups and downs, coming fast and furious, one after another. Or we can listen to the steady, comforting beat of the waves as they undulate with ancient rhythms, driven by forces much larger than ourselves.
We can understand ourselves as the wave, feeling flung onto the beach, alone and unprotected. Or we can remember that every wave has its moment, when it appears to be separating from itself, sometimes humbly, sometimes with great force and bluster, before being reclaimed by the vast wholeness of ocean.
Do I see myself and my personal struggles as a momentary wave? Are my struggles but a crest in the greater experience of humanity? For me, how I chose to answer these questions may mean the difference between acceptance and resistance, as the events of life at this time threaten to overwhelm and drown me.
For you, it may not be the ocean. Your thing may be the mist on the mountains after the rain, the morning dew in your garden, or standing amid a grove of Sequoias. You may find peace and connection in the laughter of your child, in the aching muscles of good long day of work, or in an act of service to another.
Wherever you find it, be sure to stop and listen deeply. You have been drawn here for a reason. Let other concerns fall aside and be present, even when it is hard, even when you are tired, even when you don’t want to.
Especially right now when it is easy to despair.
There is something beneath the chaos, noise, and distractions at the surface. Something within us that is regular, reliable, and powerful. There is always a beckoning, an invitation to learn, we need only open and listen.
Blessings on your journey,