Nature Teachings: Lying on the Beach
(Not Lewes Beach. This is a beach in Dover, DE.)
The third week of August, my boyfriend and I took our long-anticipated, five-year anniversary trip. We had originally planned big: We were going to take a train up into Canada, and our destination was to be Banff! (By train or by car--we did not get as far as researching the trip to see what would be our best bet.) We started planning in Winter of 2011, because we knew that it would be expensive, and we knew that I would need at least two weeks off--probably three. Well, as time went on, it became clear that our budget just wasn't going to allow for it. Things come up, even when we plan carefully. Accordingly, over time, our expectations came down, and we looked for alternatives.
Neither of us had been to the ocean in a very long time, so we decided that a week or so at the beach would be a great back up plan. A week turned into just four days, again, due to budgeting issues. In the end, we set our sights on Delaware. The plan was to find a fantastic bed and breakfast--which we did--and spend the week at Rehoboth. We ultimately ended up hitting three different beaches. Rehoboth was one of them, of course!
This particular time period was perfect for me to go to the ocean, as it turns out. The ocean offers an opportunity to cleanse, to float in the Mother's womb again, even if just briefly, to release, to shake things up, and to discover unexpected treasure. Answers might wash up on the beach with sharks' teeth or unusual shells or even just super-smooth stones. The surf keeps us alert as we tumble with it or ride over the waves. The shifting water temperatures and rising and ebbing tides allow us to shift perspective. Some waves, we ride over with joy and ease. Others, we have to dive through for safety. Still others, we might let carry us in to shore, accepting the rough and tumble of the impact. (I used to body surf, way back in the day when I could tolerate this kind of action!)
I did a little of all of these on this visit. The last night we were there, however, was most profound for me. The last beach we visited was Lewes. We spent the day there, went and had dinner, and went back at sunset. We walked a bit, and then we lay down on the sand, close to the water. The lapping of the waves lulled me into a light, meditative state, and I just stared out over the bay. The sky was a warm, deep indigo, and the horizon was a fine thread of fire.
I realized, as I stared at the horizon, that on a clear night, if you can see the horizon and really look at it for a while, you start to get a sense of the roundness of the Earth. There's the subtlest ghost of a hint of its curve. With the sky above me like a dark blanket and the sand beneath like a feather bed, I came to deeply feel what a very small container this Earth is. We can't see around the world, but in quiet moments like this, when our minds are open, we can feel it. All of it.
This moment took my breath away, and I wanted nothing more than to just stay where I was and hold it...and I did, for as long as I could. It was a potent reminder to me that it's important to be mindful of what we are sending out, because it all does come back to us, sometimes before we are ready to face it.
Since I have been back, I have been working on mindfulness in all of my actions. That night on the beach will stay with me for a very long time to come.
(Image credit: michaelmill / 123RF Stock Photo)