The Sea

I have always been drawn to the sea.  Growing up in Southern California, I was close to the Pacific Ocean, and my family went often during the summer.  On a couple of occasions, we rented a beach house and it was a wonderful gift to walk out the front door and be on the beach in minutes.  Camping adventures on Catalina Island provided new revelations about the vastness and power of the ocean, even though we were only twenty-six miles from the port of Los Angeles.  I  live in Maryland now, but just about every visit home to California includes a trip, even if it’s just for lunch, to the beach.

Recently, my trips to the Atlantic Ocean have come more frequently.  A post doctoral retreat to Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester, MA kicked off the summer and provided a much needed rest, even if it was for just a few days.  Two weeks ago, I was in Avalon, NJ for a multi-day event for work, and I had the chance to return to an ocean front hotel where I have visited annually for the last five years .  Because our Fall has been warm, the days and ocean water were especially enjoyable.  To me, there’s not many things better than a walk on the beach, coffee in hand, and experience the joy of the sunrise.  What a gift.

Next week, I’ll be back to the sea, this time leading a retreat, and then, a few weeks later, another retreat at the same oceanfront hotel in Ocean City, MD.  Two more gifts.  St. Ignatius would ask us to find God in all things, which of course would involve trips to the beach.  Water is needed for life, but as the recent hurricanes have shown us, the power of water can also be destructive.

I’m grateful for every trip to the Sea. Those visits become an opportunity for prayer for me, deep prayer helped by the rhythm of the waves or the rising of the sun.  With me or without me, the waves will be crashing, and the sun will be rising and setting.  These things remind me of the gifts of life, and the ability to see and hear.  Things I usually take for granted, until I take a moment to pause.  Oh, the power of pause.  Give it a try.


Take A Walk

This Wednesday (October 4th) is Walk Maryland Day, and whether you live in Maryland or not, try and get out for a walk and enjoy being outside.  According to the American Diabetes Association, walking is probably the safest and least expensive form of physical activity.  It can fit into just about everyone’s schedule, and only 30 minutes of walking per day, five days a week, can benefit your heart and lungs.  If you are trying to lose weight, you’ll need 60 minutes of walking per day, along with diet changes.

I love to walk, and I got back into a daily routine as soon as it warmed up this past spring.  I have a couple of routes I take right here in my neighborhood, which has some nice hills and beautiful scenery.  Like anything, those routes got a little boring after awhile, and I began looking for something else.  I was also thinking it would be fun to walk with others.  A quick internet search led me to a local organization called the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County.  As it turned out, they sponsor several walking groups here in my county but none was close by.  With some phone calls and a meeting or two, we established a Westminster walking group, and we began walking together in August.  Not all 70 people on the email list show up, but a lot do and it’s been fun getting to know new people and becoming healthier as a group.

This Wednesday, groups from all over my county will come together in Westminster and take a walk down Main Street.  I can’t wait to see how many people will show up!  I hope it’s a huge crowd and a visible sign to others that we all need to do our part to become more healthy.

That being said, if you are feeling motivated to start your own exercise program, but it’s been some time since you were active, the American Medical Association has some advice for you in their book, the Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness.

  • Check with your doctor first.
  • Start slowly.
  • Set goals- Set short and long term goals, such as building up to 60-75 minutes and 10,000 steps.
  • Track your progress.  The link above for Walk Maryland has activity logs for you to download.  Get a pedometer or Fitbit.
  • Think variety.  It’s good to mix things up to avoid boredom and keep you challenged.
  • Be comfortable.  Good shoes go a long way (pardon the pun).
  • Listen to your body.  If you experience pain, stop and get it checked out right away.  If you are sick, take a couple of days off.
  • Eat a healthy diet.  Have your doctor help you develop a diet and exercise program which is right for you.
  • Get support.  Friends and family are great, but I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my fellow walkers through Walk Carroll.  Things are always better together.


No matter where you live, I hope you’ll consider getting out for a walk this Wednesday.  We all need to do our part to keep healthy, and walking is a great way to do it.  If you live nearby, I’ll be looking for you!