Reflections: A Pilgrimage to the Seashore

Some go to the chapel to pray. I go to the ocean. But I don’t recite prayers. I listen. I cannot help but hear God’s voice when I go to the water’s edge.

I hear the roar of His wrath in the surf’s endless assault on the rockbound coast. Crash. Retreat. Crash. Retreat.

IMG_7750I hear His whisper in the murmuring wavelets on a starry night — Orion and Ursa and playmates without number above me, countless grains of sand at my feet.

I remember His promise to Abraham, 4000 years ago.

“If you can number the stars, and count the grains of sand on the seashore, so shall your descendants be.”

Since I was young, I have come to the ocean to seek solitude. Or comfort. Or memories. Of my friends, my elders, my family, my sweethearts real and yearned for. They remain with me, like weathered stone monuments or faded snapshots. And on the shore I feel their presence, close by me again.

Sometimes, at twilight, when I walk the strand or sit on the rocks, and the darkening sky blends the horizon away, I hear the music.

The sweet, sad songs of my youth waft in on the salty breeze. My heart lifts up, and I am sixteen years old again. I’m Hugo, Kim’s One Boy. I’m Tony, and I just kissed a girl named Maria. I’m Rick, assuring Ilsa that we’ll always have Paris. Lord, I’m so gallant and debonair.

Or I’m just me, standing at the edge of the dance floor, watching her whirl and smile. I’m hoping that a slow number plays next, that I’ll get to her first, and that I’ll summon up the courage to ask her to dance. Lord, I’m so shy and nervous.

I am thankful to be here. Thankful for what I find when I come to the seashore. I find my own true nature, like a shell dug out of the sand. I find both good and bad.

Yes, the songs I hear are sad, but I’m not. Though there’s much, much, I would do differently if I could go back, I don’t want those days to return. I’ve lived them. I am at peace.

Now I do say a prayer. A prayer of gratitude for the gift of those days – of those years – and for all those who shared them with me.

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