I invite you to visit a farmers’ market this time of year. The abundance flows from the stalls. I fill my bags with local produce even though I know, I mean I KNOW, I won’t get through everything. I am only feeding one person after all. But the fruits and veggies looked so delicious and autumn is underfoot as the first leaves begin to fall. It won’t be much longer and Sweet Sue peaches, Brandywine tomatoes, and Brooks prunes (reminiscent of my childhood) will disappear until next year.
Sunday marks nine weeks since I returned from my spiritual journey, “Sojourning with Grief.” As many weeks returned to this home as I was immersed in my Celtic homeland. I want to write something wise or profound about my growth and insights. And there are many insights spinning in my head and heart. But the truth is I am tired and the threads that I try to hold onto are too thin to be woven into any kind of cohesive tapestry. Instead I am offering a few random thoughts.
“What can you teach me?” I ask this question to the rocks and stones I meet on my sojourn. To hear even the faintest reply I must slow my inner clock to ancient time. To liminal time. For the souls that reside in the salt-and-pepper speckled gneiss, the chalkboard black slate, the meringue layers of limestone, and pigeon grays of common igneous hued surfaces I tread on, caress, sit and lean upon speak an unfamiliar language. I have felt an intimate connection with rock and stone during this sojourn. In the wild places, I place my hand against a rock face and wait. Sometimes the warmth of sun fills my palm, or the cool of shadow absorbs into my skin. Rough edges prod my fingertips to ask deeper questions. “What edges of yours need smoothing?” Or “Are those rough edges part of a wildness you need to keep?” Many of the rocks have facial features, as if they are trying to communicate in way we can understand if only we would stand still for a moment longer.
Surrender. Trust. Two words loaded with meaning that based on personal experience can trigger the gamut from deep resistance to relief. In the ebb and flow of my own life I have been able to surrender and trust less often with grace than with a dirty stare and a “I don’t think so…I’ve got this covered” stance.
To say “yes” and not “no” (my usual first response) when offered time away at the beach by a dear friend. Solitude. Dropping down through the curtains of rain, down through the coast range to that sweet point when suddenly (and yes it always seems to take me by surprise) the ocean comes into view. Shoulders drop and my lips taste the salt even with the car windows closed. The sky feels more blue than gray and I turn the wipers off. Instead of driving straight through to Manzanita, I pull over and take photos knowing I can’t capture the magic, but at least I might be able to pixelate the moment into a memory potion one day.
The shifting of seasons, especially the autumnal equinox seems to stir something in me. Like the winds readying to undress the trees, I felt my summer begin to fall away a few weeks ago. The list of projects, activities, planned hikes and trips to the coast—many were left undone. All seemed attainable as summer approached, then life remained busy, weekends passed and now—October is here.
I find a deep spiritual connection when I am at the beach. I walk along the coastline as the tide flows in and out. The waves seem to chase each other back and forth—some racing toward me, while others recede into the background. Since I’m not a tidal expert, without looking at the longer shoreline, I can’t tell right away if it is high or low tide, if the beach is being revealed or masked. When I am in the midst of those waves grabbing at my ankles all I can see is the present moment. Feel the water swirling around me-the warmth of water kissed by summer sun or the cold Pacific undercurrent.