Monday, May 21, 2012


     I need the ocean. I'm not sure how I survived most of my life without being able to stand with my feet licked by waves anytime I needed it. And I feel the need for it often. When my own loneliness or the stresses of life or the emotional toll of my job get too heavy, I need the weightlessness of seawater. Even if I can't submerge my body, lose myself in a sort of re-baptism as I sometimes want to, even wading is enough. 
     The water reminds me how small and finite and fragile I am, but that I am a unique character in a grand story much longer than my lifetime. A friend wondered as we walked the beach one day whether these waters could have been drops of the Red Sea parted by Moses. And I laughed when I heard a child another day tell an adult, "Some of this ocean probably used to be dinosaur pee!" Mother Teresa said that all the good we can do is just a drop in the ocean, but without it the ocean would be less. I think about that quote often as I take walks on the beach after a long night at the hospital. Those are the times when I most need the ocean to remind me. And it's always there.


View under the Congress Avenue Bridge (bat bridge), Austin, TX
     14 days.  10 states.  Four plane flights. 1760+ miles by car. Two graduations. One exploratory grad school trip.
     It's been a busy two weeks. From the bat bridge in Austin, TX to the silver arch in St. Louis, MO, from the dusty reds and browns of the desert southwest to yellow and green midwestern squares, it's been two weeks of wandering and wondering through the natural beauty of this country.  Each place carries a different charm and offers another piece of the story of our intertwined lives.
     So much of travel is simply being where you are.  Sitting in a plane on the runway listening to the different voices around you.  Trying to remember some college Spanish in a restaurant in Texas.  Watching bats emerge from under a bridge.  Trying to take a picture of an arch in Missouri that doesn't fit in your camera frame.  Checking out different fruits and vegetables in the local grocery. Watching oil pump from a well in Indiana.  If you pay attention, travel opens you up to new perspectives and unexpected beauty. It knocks you off balance, out of your narrow routines and prejudices, and opens the window to a fresh view of life.  
     And then, at the end of the journey, there's the grace and blessing of your own pillow at home.  Ahh. 

Stolen Moment
    I sit for a moment and watch it rain, the air heavy with salt and marsh and earthy ozone. The subtle switch to summer settles into the sinuous channels dividing the marsh, water rushing to the ocean, like seniors after the last school bell. Fragments of the song, 'Summertime" and the livin is easy' drift through my mind. I notice mimosas have joined the landscape, their frilly, pink hats like a page torn from a Seuss book. Rivulets of rain make channels down the windshield, some coming through my cracked windows, cold drops plopping. All is quiet, even the trill of the red-winged blackbird absent from the expanse of the marsh.
    I love summer, with its ease and lightness of being, with its late afternoon thunderstorms. It makes me believe there's time. TIme to put off chores, sleep in a lounge chair, watch a caterpillar crawl. Mary Oliver in her poem Summer Day describes how she takes the whole day to stroll through the fields, being idle and blessed. 
"Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"
      This, of course, is so true.
      So I sit in the rain where the livin's easy, being blessed.


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