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.