I’m at the sea – the Atlantic Ocean, specifically. Water, and especially the ocean, draws me like a magnet.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s classic book, Gift from the Sea, has been my companion. I’m re-reading it for the umpteenth time and this time it touched me in a new, profound way.
Lindbergh’s gift came from the shells on the beach and what they taught her about relationships, particularly the different stages of a marital relationship.
She also talks about the aging process, and how many get stuck in their 40’s and 50’s in an eternal search for lost youth. Yet, this new stage should be a time of “second flowering,” in a whole new way.
“A new stage of living when, having shed many of the physical struggles, the worldly ambitions, the material encumbrances of active life, one might be free to fulfill the neglected side of one’s self. One might be free for growth of mind, heart, and talent; free at last for spiritual growth.”
This is the stage I’ve found myself in the past few years, as my kids make their way in the world and I build a life and business beyond mothering.
What is my gift from the sea?
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
The quote above describes my gift very well. It’s in the ebb and flow of the tide, where we find the treasures.
The edge of the sea – where water meets the land – is where one sees the ebb and flow. As I watched the waves coming in and going back out, I noticed that they do both at the same time. As water is pulled back into the sea, a new wave is coming in over top of it.
It’s a never-ending cycle – the rhythm of life.
The sea deposits treasures at our feet and then takes them back out again. One has to be paying close attention to see those treasures as they come or they’ll soon be gone and we’ll have missed them.
This is what I’ve been trying to do over the past few years, living a contemplative life through photography. What’s made all the difference is paying attention to the treasures that come into my life and either appreciating them and letting them go or acting on them while they’re here.
I’ve noticed that the best opportunities and experiences have come to me, rather than me seeking them. For example, I was asked to do a contemplative photography workshop while attending a workshop on contemplative poetry. I seized the opportunity.
This does not mean being passive. I have to actively follow my instincts in terms of what I do and notice the treasures as they appear. They’re everywhere, just waiting to be acknowledged.
How many more might I have missed?