a time for me

Waking up on the first morning of our vacation, I was greeted by the view of the sunrise over the harbor. Mary Oliver’s words came to mind:

“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning and
spread it over the fields . . .Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.”

I sat for meditation as the sun traveled up the horizon, its warmth increasing, coming through the open window. After meditation, Neal and I head to the bakery; a ritual we repeat every time we visit. We wake up early, go to the Old Post Office Bagel Shop, grab a cup of coffee and head to the beach for a long walk.


There are very few people on the beach this early in the morning. Some faces are familiar – having crossed paths with them before – most are friendly; we smile and wish each other a good morning as we walk by. Older people appear to be more inclined to making eye contact and smiling. Sometimes, we cross paths with someone who’s lost in thought, lips tight, looking away, removed. We all bring our stories with us.

Today, we meet a young man from Chicago. His dog decides to adopt us and walks with us, so he too joins us for a while.  He shares that he visits every summer with his family. His wife’s mother has been coming here since 1948.

I wonder how the island looked back in 1948. Change happens slowly here. There is a warm familiarity to this place; it reminds me of a lovingly used old chair; the most comfortable and welcoming one in a home. You can count on it receiving you in a warm, uncomplicated manner, time and again. Every time you sit on it, it feels just right. That’s how I feel when I’m here; like I’ve never left. Over the years and through many life changes, I’ve learned to treasure this feeling.

 

 

Maybe that’s why I come back. There are no expectations or pressure for me to be anything other than who I choose to be in the moment.

There’s no history and no emotional barb wires here. There’s the watery expanse, sunrise and sunset, friendly strangers on the beach, the hours succeeding one another, leisurely. I can be as quiet as I please and observe my mental patterns.

Gone are the days of jam packing my vacation with things to do and places to visit. These days, I’m content watching the world go by, preferably as I listen to the waves and feel the warm sun on my skin.

My sixteen year old daughter will have none of that. She thinks I’m quiet and boring. How can I possibly avoid making plans and wish to enjoy time alone? Why on earth do I wake up at the crack of dawn to go to the beach and why, oh why, don’t I want to be there when the crowds descend? I have tried to answer her questions but I think it’s wiser to stop trying. She’ll have to find her own answers when she’s ready.

These days, it’s quiet time alone I crave the most. As I walk along this quiet stretch of beach, it’s my own inner voice that takes front seat. I want to hear what this woman has to say to me. There isn’t much time for her usually.

My attention is constantly drawn outside of myself. For now, I’m grateful for being a stranger among strangers. No one expects anything from me. I choose to believe that, the smiles my fellow travelers and I exchange this morning, are smiles of recognition and welcoming. We share the same secret.

“Isn’t this divine? Just us and the sea doing her thing. Enjoy!”

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sea turtles – early morning meditation

We left before dawn, hoping to see the newborn sea turtles
make their journey from nest to sea and onwards,
the breeze, cool and damp on my skin,
the ocean breathing in and out,
the clouds, changing shape and illuminated
by the sun sending the first light up the horizon
deep purple, fiery red and orange, yellow and periwinkle blue.

The Sandpipers are scurrying, digging,
making good use of their time,
they don’t seem to be distracted by my footsteps.

The seagulls, gliding above the water and
landing on the wet sand.
I see the shape of their early morning catch
dangling from their beaks.

Crabs are darting in and out their holes,
a jelly fish lying lifeless – left behind –
a solitary reminder of impermanence
and what happens when one becomes lost and stranded,
cut away from the source.

Initially we too behave like crab,
looking for something,
talking, laughing, asking questions, making up answers.
Then, slowly, silence descends.

Quietly, breathing with the ocean,
my feet feel the wetness of the sand
my skin, cool and damp,
my eyes following the ever changing light and colors on the horizon.
I’m not thinking of the turtles anymore and their journey.

Today, they don’t appear
but the sandpipers, the seagulls and the crabs are here with us.
So is the damp sand and the ocean waves,
the sun light bursting forth and the morning air.
There are others, walking quietly,
in their own pace.

We are here, now
this morning, this moment
how full and perfect it is.

Copyright ⓒ 2011 Yota Schneider – the art of pausing

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