I go to the sea for solace and usually return home having shifted my mood from dull to peaceful, my heart somehow beating to the rhythm of the waves instead of the heavy thump of this crazy onshore world.Today while visiting Provincetown, a quaint village at the tip of Cape Cod, I was drawn to a photographic exhibit, titled They Face The Sea, honoring fishermen’s wives who have held this spirited culture alive. Mostly I was impressed by where they chose to install these portraits. They are affixed to the side of a weathered shack which sits far out on a pier, easily claimed by the elements that inhabit the edge of the ocean. I imagine the artists choice of location further symbolized the hardships that accompany a seafaring life.As I stood bundled up with a wet wind glazing my face it occurred to me that facing the sea is not unlike facing life. You never know what you’ll sea/see but the possibilities are endless. No one could know this better that a fisherman’s wife. These resilient women not only face the sea but work with the sea, shucking scallops, mending nets, setting traps, remaining positive as their husbands set sail, all the while keeping the spirit and rituals of their Portuguese community alive.Although I sense that this culture like many others is becoming ancient history, I’m finding that what people are yearning for during this pandemic is memory—a sense of place and people, a belonging to one another. The noted sociologist Ashley Montague suggested that women are the carriers of culture. If that is so, we best get going.
I have frequently walked past this hastily constructed staircase built with rotted wood seasoned by the sea. In its own way I suppose you could say it is a modern day sea sculpture although that would be pushing it. Most days I pay no attention to such things, but today (probably out of extreme boredom), it has captured my curiosity. The Pandemic has temporarily stuffed my curiosity and I’m hell bent to get it back. It’s all about going forward, I say aloud, I place my right foot on an old piece of clapboard. Ouch! The first step snaps with the mere touch of my foot.No matter how precarious, frightening, steep or fragile this climb could be, it has the ability to take me to another level both literally and figuratively. I smile imagining my grandfather, frugal as they come, creating this monstrosity so we might have a little more vision for a better life. We had to be patient for things back then and I suppose that’s why that virtue is coming in handy. Just as I happen to have extra time to not only climb these stairs and reflect on past experiences so I need to also make ample time for patient doings.It’s all about stepping up to the job.
The Celtic peoples receive much of their wisdom from the natural world. They walk in specific directions for specific reasons. North offers healing; West offers patience; South offers clarity; East offers grace.Right now I find so many soul seekers facing west to watch the sunset. I, for one, can’t get enough of this amazing experience. Is it because I am searching for patience…that quality that has eluded me during this pandemic and civil strife? Whatever, after the sun sinks into the sea, my shoulders drop, I take a gentle breath and for a time I know a way will open.
Women instinctively know that all solutions involve action. What’s more, action creates change. Action gets reaction. Action inspires. Action in the Greek means to stretch toward something. Keep stretching my friends, and your whole world will open up.
It was she who saved her…pulled her up…and pulled her through. They wove a lifetime blanket of old and wise, green and blessed truths that cradles her soul and saves her from freezing.Muse: A gliding spirit; A source of inspiration; Nature as muse…Friend as muse I want my very ordinary life back…the one where you get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, check the to do list, feel a little contentment watching a gentle snow fall, luxuriate in the ordinariness of the day, no emergencies, a few boring errands, mail a birthday gift to a friend, and just melt into the hours.I’ve tried really hard to be a good sport, during this dreadful pandemic,,. realizing how fortunate I am, appreciating the hard work of the front liners, and relieved of the mourning that dwells in homes where death has come.Still, with the cancelling of holiday festivities, family get-togethers, informal coffees, volunteer work, church services, sporting events, to name a few, regular living as we knew it is no longer Technicolor, but black and white. A life that keeps presenting us with season upon season of stagnation is killing the very soul of community. Missing human contact which awakens the senses only comes with connection…tactile and otherwise. Being anti-social discourages reciprocity which then creates dead zones. In fact, we’ve been breathing oxygen deficient air. Without motion, without reciprocity that comes with relationship, without fresh air (fresh thought and deed as well) we begin to wilt. If nothing else, the pandemic is teaching me to not only BE in the world and own that experience but to also share what I’m learning in hopes of growing my spirit from a negative place to a more positive.As if on cue the phone rings. It is a true friend, Cheryl. With Cheryl, I can be serious, ridiculous, truthful, silly, bitchy , wild, passionate and frightened, to name a few. Some discussions are trivial and whimsical while others we consider courageous. No matter, whatever the theme we thrive on connecting our thoughts, sharing true feelings , being heard, and coming away having made sense of life’s paradoxes is the gift of friendship.Today I asked her if she wished to have more delight in her life?“I’m not sure I even remember what that is.” she quipped..And that became a starting point for our next chat. We would both get out our “delight detectors” and see if indeed we actually received by surprise or a choreographed moment when, ah yes, a high degree of pleasure or satisfaction was experienced. To harness the muse it is helpful to play it out with another to make for a lasting experience. That way we climb out of the muck. What has delighted you recently?????
“If it is woman’s function to give, she must be replenished too.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Here I sit atop a lifeguard’s stand gazing out at the endless sea, psychically trying to recover from the storming of our Capitol. I have no sense of resolve and no idea how one citizen has the sense or power to make things right.Everything has become so heavy, lonely and protracted that after so many years of bad news I fear I‘ve become immune to the level of violence that is alive and well in these United States and feel helpless to do anything but sit here and wait for the forces of good to reappear.But alas, last Sunday as I listened to a service of worship coming from Marsh Chapel at Boston University I took particular notice to the minister when he said: “Let us learn now to make us stronger later.”Seek and yea shall find, says the scripture. I think that’s what my forays into this salty land were meant to provide. The natural world answers. There is no other way to proceed, but proceed we must. When the light of spring bursts forth I want to be ready to do the work of healing not only of myself but those with whom I come in contact.
Look what I found in a fortune cookie:You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
Occasionally there is something colorful in the muted sand that I’m made to stop and examine more fully. Today it is a plethora of buoys usually seen bobbing up and down in the sea, far from land, signifying that a particular fisherman’s lobster trap lies far below. But here on this shore these nautical peculiarities remind me of numerous women who have buoyed me through troubled times and difficult ventures. None, by the way, were asked for help. They simply presupposed a need. The remainder of today’s walk will be full of visions and stories in which friends have blessed me thusly, and given me the strength to stretch myself to a stable shore once again. Gratitude for feminine energy
Hopeful New Year! That is my wish for everyone this year. Today’s walk led me past a life preserver hanging on a weathered pole waiting to be used for a rescue. As I walked the low tide line thinking about my resolutions or intentions that might guide 2021, I realized that it is up to me to preserve my own life. Although this reality might seem lonely at first, I need only recall the strengths and uniqueness of my mother and grandmothers with their fearless attitudes and enormous determination. Their genes live within me and so I don’t always have to reach out for help but find it within.