Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stars Above the Blue

This afternoon at work I was looking fondly out the window at the deep blue sky I have been missing this winter. It was a perfect day for a nap in the park, or it would have been if I could have done that. I love the clouds, the rain, and the stormy nights, but as months go by and I weary of the winter weather , I start telling myself that above those clouds there is always pure blue sky. That usually cheers me a bit to know that whatever is going on in my life, there is always hope and beauty above it all. Within my view, was also a very large evergreen tree and I spent some time wondering about it. (Work wasn't very busy.) We get some pretty windy weather at times and a lot of rain that makes the ground soft. So my question was how big was the root system for that tree that would ground it so firmly into the earth that no storm has toppled it down? Then I realized that tree was a lot like reality in general. More and more, I wonder about the difference between what we see and what is really there. There is a voice inside me that tells me there is far more to this world than what I alone pervieve. There is more to this world than what my eyes tell me. Are there angels? Are there demons? What does God's light look like if I could see it coming from everything and everyone around me? I can only see the top of the reality tree, what does the root system look like? What is there in the deep places that keeps us grounded and steady through the storm? There may be blue sky above the clouds, but I am now convinced there are stars above the blue sky that I can only imagine when I look at life. What's out there? Down here? I wonder.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Life, Then Picutres

Yesterday I took a trip over to the coast as a retreat day. It seems I do this on a yearly basis between late February to mid March. I don't know what it is about this time of year. Perhaps it is because the faintest whisper of spring is in the air and like the flowers, I am longing to turn my face to the sun and breathe after winter's tempest has keept me indoors for so long. It is usually the time of year when things are overflowing inside and I need a time before the ocean to lay them out before the sands of time. Something about watching the waves wash up on the shore puts my life in perspective and in the roar of the waves, I can hear God sing.
The day brought several surprises the least of which was rain in the morning and early afternoon. Many times I have walked the beach in the cold and even in the rain and I don't mind too much. It's simply a part of where I live. But yesterday I had my camera with me, a nice digital SLR I bought with money I had saved from my editing work and I didn't want anything to happen to it. So, I altered my plans and went to Mo's early. For those of you not familiar with this delectable restaraunt of goodness, let me tell you that they serve the best clam chowder. I know there are people who would disagree, but I grew up going to Mo's and so it also my comfort food, like a favorite blanket you love to wrap up in. Nearly everytime I visit the beach, I make sure to spend some of the day at Mo's.
After Mo's, I ventured back onto the beach which was now quite beautiful and I took pictures to my heart's content. Partway along my walk, there was an older gentleman who had been watching a log moved by the waves for some time and I asked him if he would take my picture. He did so gladly and when I commented on how nice a picture it was, he said he was a proffessional photographer twenty years ago. When I asked why he stopped, he simply answered, "I found I was looking at the world through a viewfinder." I have been thinking about his words since. You can be so caught up in taking pictures, or a career, or working through your crap, or whatever it is your focus is on, that you forget to look at the world and to experience life for life itself. Walking along the shore, I had been taking so many pictures, I forgot to just enjoy the beauty. This man, though, had been watching that log for over fifteen minutes and he outlined to me all the places it had moved even in just that short time. Before I left the beach myself, God urged me to lie down in the sand for a while. I protested, saying I would get sand all over me including in my hair. It would be messy. But he was quite stubborn about it so I layed down and watched the sky, closed my ears to hear the ocean, and deeply breathed in the sea salt smell. My camera was idle, but I was alive.
Later in the day, I went by subway for a sandwich and cookie to take back the beach with me. I thought I would settle on a log and watch the waves for a while. The waves were there, but what I did not count were the seagulls. Walking down the beach in seach of a good piece of driftwood to sit on, I became aware that I was not alone. Flying around my head and walking behind me were at least a hundred seagulls, I kid you not. I turned around and was eye to eye with several flying right in front of my face, well within arms reach. I kept walking and they kept following, apparently, they are well aquainted with Subway bags and what is held inside them. I laughed and shook the bag, egging them on, seeing how far they would come. At one point, I set the bag down under my coat and took out my camera. Then I walked along grabbing pictures of them as they flew beside me. In the other hand, I had opened the subway bag and threw the occasional bread up into the air or onto the ground. It was an amazing experience. Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "The Birds" was in my mind and just on the edge of my mind, a tiny bit of fear as there were far more of them than there was of me. But being so close to these beautiful birds pushed the fear aside in my abundant delight. I already have a plan to go back with a few bags of bread and a friend sometime to take pictures of each other with the birds.
Sometimes life hands us these gifts to enjoy and learn from. They wake us up to life, to experiencing it in all it's fullness and joy. The day was my lesson to experience life first, and then take pictures.