Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beach Prayers

I love the beach. The beach has always felt like my natural home. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and every summer my family went to Lake Erie for a month. I grew up with that great lake surf, and then in my 20’s I started going to Cape Cod and early on I found my truest spot on earth: Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Massachusetts.

Over the years I have been to many beautiful beaches—Elbow Beach in Bermuda being one of the first that comes to mind-- but the National Seashore on Cape Cod is my spiritual home. Over the years I have left every troubling issue, ever moment of gratitude, and every great love and great loss on Coast Guard Beach. I have sobbed there, begged there and danced there.

And amazingly I have almost always been alone there. Yes, it’s a public beach and very popular but I have been lucky and/or blessed that most mornings I arrive on the beach I have it all to myself. That may be one of the reasons I feel spiritually present on that beach.

One of the ways I pray at the beach is by writing in the sand. It’s a ritual and a habit and very centering. I take a stick or a sharp shell and I turn my back to the ocean and begin to write every issue, every person, every institution that I am struggling with. I also write the names of the people I love—living and dead, and I write things I wish for, and the questions I am presenting to God. As I work down the beach the surf nips at me and I dance and jump as the ocean starts to embrace and take into itself what I have written down.

Even when I cannot be sure there is a God or Higher Being I know there is an ocean. Any time of day that I stand on the shore and watch the ocean and tides I have no doubt that there is something bigger than me, and that Bigger Something is always my way back to God. I always leave the beach surrendered and grateful have written my prayers and sent them into the waves.

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