One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconcious rollers may toss up on the smooth white sand of the concious mind;
what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor.
- Anne Morrow Lindberg, Gift from the Sea
I no longer keep track of how many times I have read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg, a text filled with wisdom and peaceful observance of the stages and rhythms of a woman's life. Nearly every summer I revisit the pages of my well-worn and well-loved copy, amazed at the peace that washes over me when I see my own questions, my own musings so precisely verbalized by a woman who lived a life so very different from mine. It reminds me that we are not alone in this journey because deep down our hearts are the same.
This book is particularly appropriate reading for me this week given that I am staying at the beach and celebrating my 46th birthday. These two events have put my contemplative nature into overdrive. I always wanted to be a woman who grows older with grace but I admit that lately I sometimes find myself wondering who that cheerful and slightly sagging chick in the mirror is. Does she know that 50 is just around the corner?
I love watching and listening to the waves as they form and make their way to shore. The tide, like the passing of time, is unstoppable... relentless. Every day it flows in and it flows out, changing the landscape with each crash of a wave. Life is just the same. Things come crashing in, circumstances change and the best I can do is look for and appreciate the beauty that is before me right here and now because it, too, will be changed with the arrival of the next wave.
I haven't needed much "stuff" to keep me happy this week. Even the one moderate suitcase I brought seems superfluous (although I really, really tried not to overpack). The weight of unneccessary possessons is such a burden. As I headed out to the beach my first day here I filled my backpack with so many things I thought I might need. Did I really think I was going to read my book and work Sudoku puzzles? Today I will probably walk out the door with just my hotel key.
Most of all, though, I have learned that I am ready. By God's grace I believe I am ready for whatever the next year, the next season of my life brings.
Tomorrow I head home. This retreat has been great, but I look forward to infusing a bit of beach girl attitude into my everyday life. I want to pursue my renewed desire to simplify and "lighten my load", to seek and appreciate the beauty that washes up on my little shore each day.