Gifts from the Sea...

I am drawn to the sea. She is majestic and magnificent and mysterious. She is glorious and beautiful and powerful. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is awesome and amazing, spectacular and vast and huge and deep. I love the bright cerulean waters of the islands and the deep greens of the cool New England coastline. She is always the same and yet ever changing. She is predictable and yet not. She is calm and furious. And within her presence I am in my glory. I am at peace and ease. I respect her and admire her. I am drawn to her beauty and power. It is the ocean I seek when I need an escape. I could never live anywhere too far from it. And when I cannot readily stand on her shores I find peace and solace in the bath.

I hear many mothers who complain that they never take time for themselves... there is never enough time in the day. While my days are packed I do carve out time to myself. I need it. My children need it. My children need me to take this time. While I cannot readily set off for a good, soul-cleansing run on the beach (What would I possibly do with the children?) I can draw a bath. I can fill my big, deep tub with water and scents from the sea, from Provence or from Tuscany. I can climb in to the hot water and let my body feel weightless and close my eyes and let the worries and the stresses temporarily melt away. I need this. My body needs this. My soul needs this. Alongside my tub are various shells that I have collected from the Bahamas, from Bermuda and Newport and Maine. I have clam shells that serve as a soap dish and luminaries filled with sand and shells. And now I have the sea glass I collected from the beautiful, rocky shores north of Boston. Beautiful sea glass in browns and greens and blues and whites in all different sizes and shapes. Magnificent glass that has been magically transformed from someone's discarded bottles. Glass that has been tossed into the sea and been broken up by waves and rocks from, perhaps, violent storms and glass that has been transformed from something jagged and sharp and dangerous into something smooth and soothing and magnificent. I look at my sea glass and I see beauty. I love the feel and the smell and the look of it. Like the shells and the life deep below, sea glass is a gift from the sea.

How privileged I am to have grown up with the sea -- to have spent my summers with her, with little fish nibbling at my toes... to have been able to have watched as octopi wrapped their arms around the docks of the marinas... to have played on her shores and dug holes in her sands... to have learned to fear and revere and respect her... to have swum out for miles and miles and miles.

It was to the sea I ran when I was just 16 and our summer home caught fire. It was to her I could share my innermost thoughts and bare my soul and shed my tears... It was to the the quiet, private beach I rode my bicycle when I needed to run away. I would take off my shoes and walk in the sand and feel the softness beneath my feet. I would sit and watch the tides roll in or out and watch her lap upon the shores. And she seemed always to listen to me, which to a teenager, is of great importance.

The sea is forever changing, like the seasons. She changes with the day and throughout the year. She can be calm and she can be tempestuous. She's as mesmerizing as a crackling fire in the middle of January. Have you ever really taken the time to watch the sea? I highly suggest you do. Her message is powerful. Her message is soothing.

I live just miles away from the beach and I wish I could get to her more often. My relationship with her is different these days. I can no longer just sit and watch her motions and emotions. I now have children I must watch. I cannot take my eyes off of them for a minute. I watch as they dig her sandy shores and delight in her waters. But I cannot trust her. I cannot trust her to take care of my children for I know her secrets. I know her strength.

It was not until I was in my 20s that she earned my respect. Twice. The first time I was in Nantucket. I was pretty far out and got caught in an undertow. I am a strong swimmer and by the grace of God I did not panic. I let the sea take me to where she wanted. I curled up in a ball and let her take me here and there. I held my breath and was happy to bounce around on the sand... was happy to feel the sting of the salt on my forehead from where I had been tossed. In the end I ended up along the shore a good bit away from where I had entered. I was afraid. Until then I had never really known fear. I certainly had never feared the ocean.

At the end of that decade I was in the Bahamas with my husband. The crystal blue waters were magnificent and appealing and spectacular. A storm was approaching and the surf was rough. But the sun was out in her glory and it was a perfect day to be at the beach. I made my way out. The surf was rough but not overly so. Still I entered with caution -- the kind of caution one has after one has had a close encounter. The waves started to come faster and closer together. I stood there, about waist deep, trying to decide whether to jump over her watery peak or dive below. I decided to dive but my timing was off. And as I went down she grabbed a hold of me with such passion and force. As I had in the past I remained calm and rolled into a ball ready to be tossed and bounced. I was not ready to be slammed onto my left shoulder with that kind of fury. Fury enough to knock my shoulder from the comfort of her home. I knew instantly what had happened even though I had never experienced an injury (or pain) like that ever before. Thirteen years later I am still paying the price from that ill-timed, ill-fated decision. Thirteen years later and my respect for her remains strong. My fear of her remains strong. And my love for her is unwavering.

It is my dream, to one day have a home at the sea with windows tall and wide. I will sit and watch her ebb and tide and lap the shores and wave hello. I will forever feel soothed and comforted and calmed by her motions and movements. I will forever seek her thoughts and advice and solace. I will turn to her for advice and answers and comforts.

I will always relish the many gifts I have received from the sea.