You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns. Henry David Thoreau
Early every morning barring serious thunderstorm or domestic demands we go to the Beach. This routine is simple and soothing, wait for the first light, drink some coffee, brush teeth, don bathing suits and go. Some ancient ritual marking the miracle of each day calls us to the edge of sand and water. Empty in mind and belly we seek communion and supplication with “the Shehe” that inhabits saltwater, wind and sand. Beaches are sacred ground, where all worlds mingle, earth and sky, life and death, dreams and despair. These polarities are nothing new or unique, it is just so much chowder in the Pot. Ask the empty Conchs, the turtle eggs, the faster fish, the stealthy Ghost Crabs. The living and the dead, real and imagined mingle freely here, and without apology. Each a foundation and food for the “other.”
Humans come to fish, to soak, to walk, to see, to rest. When we come to the beach we are home. We come to wash away pain, to heal brokenness, to find joy in living and in being alive, to accept death as inevitable, to see the magic in an earthly manifestation; no matter how difficult this assignment may be, on this day or any other.
The sea is the beginning and the end, always and forever.
Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything. Albert Einstein
This being summer in a Florida winter beach town the beach is gloriously empty of people. It is a 3 minute trip in the sand lined and musty “beach car;” my immortal 2004 Toyota highlander. This relic of a different life, sporting New Mexico license, is packed with what most weekend beach revelers might feel essential; chairs and coolers, towels, umbrellas, noodles and sand toys. Through constant practice we have whittled the daily needs to mangy beach hat, bamboo mat and a single wacky noodle. We have several rainbow colors but there is a crusty favorite.
On this day, as everyday, there was magic. The familiar long legged Great Blue Heron; sultan of the fishing pier restrooms was entertaining today. Three heads turned. Size equals aristocracy in the bird world. These three giants feigned deep insult as we passed. They sized us up with a side-eye stare, the only choice really, with their eye placement. No fishing pole=no bait=no interest. Beak in the air, we were dismissed. Turning with their best slow motion “giant step” each hurried off in the Great Heron way, as if the air was molasses thick, a visual of a 78 record played on 33. The Great Blue heron and the Hummingbird must represent the entire Bird Time Continuum.
What compels human beings to stand in moving water, watch the clouds, and feel for the movement of the sea? The universal fraction of change: Movement + Element over Time sings a compelling chant to the bodies here at the edge of water. While one of us walks down the beach talking to fish and sky, another enters the warm water and begins the sacred water healing ritual. Petitioning the sun, practicing unity with wave and wind, the salt water is substrate for the healing of bone and muscle finally relieved of their constant trial.
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. Kahlil Gibran
The clouds were in their most impressive “Thunder Being” arrangement over the western horizon. The sun rose behind the three tall slash pines on the edge of the beach. Their shade reached across the sand and far into the water. Down the beach, a familiar head bobbed on the small waves, far, far out on this very low tide. A nearly full moon reflected the blue sky in the west.
I was well into my Spirit cleaning, calf clenching speed walk down the empty beach. This practice is my own body-mind-spirit vehicle for mind clearing, family support, and personal expansion; whatever is up in my world. Cutting through my walking meditation, a leaping silver fish caught my eye. He leap once, twice, three times, giving new meaning to “walking on water.” I stood in the water, watching the fish take wing, witnessing the life and death dance of “feeding time.”
Many miles to the West, hovering near the tower of cloud, a huge ball of bright Magenta color was forming. As it grew larger and brighter, my mind went at it. Rainbow? Burning boat? Why only that color? Why only that direction? What does this mean!? A round single color rainbow? Does anyone else see this?
But there was no one else.
Thankfully when the not so wise Mind runs out of small individual human thoughts it gets quiet, shuts up, or shuts down. Then the really Big- “We are all connected” thoughts move in, albeit at the speed of a Great Blue Heron. If you wait for it, get quiet and breathe, they always show up.
I imagined that my family in the West was seeing this first color of sunrise. My thoughts were reaching out to children and grandchildren, Family and Friends. Even reaching family so far west from here that it is Far East, the mind warp of living on a sphere! Thoughts and prayers, making their way across the water and the miles, time and distance made meaningless. Love and light travel together is what the fish told me.
I watched that glow of color and connection, swaying with the waves until I realized I was buried in the sand with the coquinas. The gentle relentless movement of sand and water had pulled me back into earth with each wave. I was in halfway up to my knees. Someday I won’t move my buried feet. I will stay and see if the sea can bury me completely feet first. But this is not that day. On this memorable day, I appreciate the grounding.
We could explain everything with water temperature, salinity, negative ions, and light refraction, everything except why we all feel so much better after being at the Beach!
Remember the Ghost Crab, small transparent sand crabs that don’t survive beaches with people, because people have big feet.
They were once described as an “occult, secretive alien from the ancient depths of the sea”. There are swarms of them at the beach now. Life is easy and hard, good and bad, dark and light: all at the same time. The real trick is to learn to love ALL of it. The best way I know to do that is to stand in sand up to your knees, let the waves get you wet, and marvel at the beauty of the sky.
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Frank Lloyd Wright
As usual my lady, you have a knack for translating things felt into good, enjoyable prose.
That is not a gift passed out to just anyone.