I’m away at Westport this weekend. My habitual reaction when sipping my first cup of coffee on the first morning of my stay here is amazement at the quiet and solitude of this place. As with most of my visits here, the sky is overcast, the temperature is cool, and the air is heavy with moisture, all combining for empty condos around me and a nearly deserted beach, even in the middle of the day. Today, the ever-present wind is subdued and the tall grass encroaching on the path between here and the beach is gently rippling rather than doubled over by gusts from the latest storm.
In my third floor perch behind this large window, all is peaceful. There is no laundry waiting my attention, no reminders of the overgrown lawn and out-of-control ivy at home, no disorganized and overfilled closets calling my name. The gray, mottled sky is easy on the eyes, the movement of the waves just beyond the sand berm is hypnotic and soothing, and though I have neighbors, it seems that no one is home, and it’s sublimely easy to be alone, to center my thoughts, to reflect, to recharge.
Yet, just beyond the point where the tall grass meets the sand, there is an uproar going on. The surf is in constant motion, never stopping its attack on the shore. The sound of those waves, one cresting upon another, is nonstop. When standing alone on the beach, the relentless, crashing waves constantly come toward me, and the enormity of it renders me insignificant and vulnerable. My presence here has no impact on my surroundings, beyond my footprints in the sand which soon disappear. I stand and stare at the point where the water meets the sky, sweeping my gaze from left to right, keeping the incoming tide in my peripheral vision.
In order to break the spell of the inexorable waves coming closer and closer to where I stand, I focus my attention on a few square yards of beach beneath my feet. I search for sea glass. I notice that my new hip joint is less pained today than yesterday. I think about what I will have for lunch and my upcoming trip to Texas. I ruminate about challenges at work. I wonder why I never come across an unbroken sand dollar. I accept the fact that my hair will be almost impossible to comb after this.
Looking down, I focus on mundane, self-centered things. Looking up and out, I am awed by the magnitude of my surroundings and humbled by my comparative smallness. These two realities, my small thoughts and actions compared to the vastness of what lies in front of me, are challenging to reconcile, yet they do. The God of the land, sea, and sky, by whose will the waves come to shore, is known to me, and I am known to him. Though I am nothing compared to the wonder of creation around me, I am favored and set apart by the Creator. Now I realize that it’s not the aloneness of this place that recharges me, it is the reminder that I am not alone even when no one else is around.
“He is the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.” ~Psalm 146:6