Monday, June 8, 2015

Land, Sea, Love!

Have you ever noticed that man's breath is like the waves of the sea? Listen to it. It recedes into itself and then flows out like the sound of the tide. This is especially noticeable in sleep. It is as though we have oceans inside of us...

I awoke early with this thought and felt heavy with child. Not a physical child, but heavy with the weight of thoughts and words that have been welling up inside of me and growing, growing, growing. I haven’t blogged for months now and every word grows onto the next word until there’s no escaping the fact that I must either write, spilling out the child, or suffer an internal death of sorts. And so I tap away at these keys again…

This weekend I had the opportunity to do something I’ve been longing to do for a while – visit an island! The ferries come back and forth every day, and I’ve had a mind to walk onto the next one and sail away for a mini getaway. I was thrilled when my boyfriend and his mother whisked me away Saturday, and we ferried from the port of Seattle to Brainbridge Island. Standing on the ferry deck with the wind in my hair, there was something intensely freeing and satisfying about watching the mainland grow smaller and smaller in the distance and feeling the unpredictable movement of the water beneath us.

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time,” said the French writer Andre Gide.

A half hour later, the finger of the island came into view. Picturesque cottages along the tree-lined, sandy shore reminded me of the children’s picture book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Conney. In this book, the main character grows up and travels far from home and lives many adventures in foreign lands. Finally, she returns as an old lady to live in a cottage by the sea, where she strives to fulfill her grandfather’s wish that she do something to make the world more beautiful. She scatters lupine seeds generously up and down every hillside until the whole landscape is a beautiful garden for others to enjoy.

I can imagine that the Lupine Lady could live on an island like Brainbridge, and that perhaps there are many Lupine Ladies and Gentlemen living on this very island. For everywhere we went – not lupines, but ferns and azaleas and rhododendrons and other lush, Washington flora fanned their leaves and scents everywhere to delight the unsuspecting visitor. How lush and wild everything was!

In the downtown center of Winslow, we strolled by many interesting shops and saw, hanging on the side of one, a sign with the words “LAND, SEA, LOVE.” Ah, yes! I grinned and met the twinkling eyes of my boyfriend beside me, both of us being transplants here from the Midwest, tasting all three of these mysteries.
Nowhere else on earth is there more coveted real estate than coastal land by the water. No other place is perhaps as romantic and so sought after for vacation spots than ocean beaches or lake beaches, where ground and sea meet!

Why is this? What is there in both that seem to hold infinite possibilities for the other?

Since moving out here, I have watched in amazement as the foam crawls up the sand of the beach and then recedes again, leaving a trail of shells and driftwood and kelp to share with the land. I’ve watched the rush of water splash upon the rocks, sending upwards a powerful spray. What would the land be without the sea? Just a dried up rock with no life on it? What would the sea be without the land? Just a tumultuous expanse with no limits to define it. These are my musings as I realize how we need both. In their differences, the land and the sea create a balance and intricate harmony that is life giving and enriching. I have found it to be so in relationships too.

There’s a short and beautiful Humanum video worth watching that explores human sexuality in light of the cosmos, comparing man to the land and woman to the sea. There is this complimentary yin and yang, femininity and masculinity, penetrating the whole cosmos.

In an inspiring book I’m reading called Gift from the Sea, author Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes about our need for "aloneness." There is a need for moments of aloneness individually and the need for aloneness between man and woman, between mother and child, between two people in any relationship who, she says, desire to be loved and cherished by another in moments of aloneness.

The island seems to whisper this. It appears solitary, a landmass all to itself, whereby we can escape to find a measure of solitude. At the same time, the island is in a mysterious relationship with the sea that surrounds it on all sides, holding it and drawing its jagged outlines. The land receives from the sea and gives back. Life under the sea and life above it look different and survive differently. Together land and sea show life existing in all its wild diversity.

All these thoughts seemed to reach their height on the island, where I savored the aloneness with those dear to me and let nature speak in its raw, unchanged yet always changing, harmonious forms. I came to be taught by the island.