Tag Archives: ocean

We came to the setting of the sun…

The Second Day of Nativity was splendid.

After Liturgy friend Margaret and I went to breakfast and then out to the coast to walk on the beach. The sun was shining but it was wintry with wind beating against us from every direction and tearing the sea foam into chunks of confetti which then ran away across the sand.

We walked and talked and talked and walked, and kind of got lost. We had pushed a long way to the south without realizing it, and then when we came back, we couldn’t recognize the path by which we had come down through the dunes at the start. So, up we walked on a different path, me thinking we might have gone too far and were at the northern access to the beach. Nope. After looking at a map that a couple of newbies were kind enough to show us (we who named this our favorite beach!) we realized that we had crossed an invisible boundary to the next beach south, and were still not back to the beach we’d started out on. We had a long way to go yet back to the car.

So we kept on, till we got to the proper exit, and then turned around to face the sea once more as the sun was going down, for a good-bye. We said a couple of prayers together, ending with “the earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside of the Bible that is still in use today,” Phos Hilaron, which we know as “O Gladsome Light.”

O Gladsome Light of the holy glory
of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father:
O Jesus Christ.

Now that we have come to the setting of the sun,
and behold the light of evening, we praise God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise,
O Son of God and Giver of life;
therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

The seed of heaven on my face.

Having a baby in the house gets to feel perfectly, comfortingly normal after a week. Babies always keep me focused on the fundamental things, like laughing and kissing and playing lap games with a little person just starting out in the world.

The way they give their full attention to their work, whether it is a game of throwing a cork and chasing it, or eating breakfast, is inspiring. Their thoughts are not always wandering to the other work waiting to be done, or Does Johnny like me? and other such distractions.

Raj and his parents have returned to the other side of the globe. Our last few days, which were quieter after all the fun aunts and uncles and cousins had gone, provided more opportunity for the two of us to wander about the garden between showers, to examine sunflower seeds and olives and salvia flowers; and for Raj to eat peanut butter for the first and second times.

We all went to the coast and listened to the waves crashing on the sand, and felt the fresh and rain-softened air. This morning of Kate and Tom and Raj’s departure, I came to consciousness with the sound of rain lending an unusual clarity — and when it’s heavy enough to hear, that means it’s enough to really soak in and bless the earth. It’s the best way I know to wake up.

I’ve been wanting to post this poem, and now seems right, even though it is a somewhat melancholy reflection. The seeds of heaven the poet feels are a comforting connection to those he is separated from, and a distillation of pain into something so nourishing, only God could have accomplished it.

AUTUMN RAIN

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

the cloud sheaves
in heaven’s fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

falling — I hear again
like echoes even
that softly pace

heaven’s muffled floor,
the winds that tread
out all the grain

of tears, the store
harvested
in the sheaves of pain

caught up aloft:
the sheaves of dead
men that are slain

now winnowed soft
on the floor of heaven;
manna invisible

of all the pain
here to us given;
finely divisible
falling as rain.

-D.H. Lawrence

Read about the poem here.

The Neighboring Sea

For a few years of my life I lived a few blocks from the beach near Santa Barbara, California, but my world was so full of other kinds of excitement in those days that I gave very little thought to my neighboring kingdom. It pains me at this stage of life to think what I missed by not spending more time at the ocean’s edge or at least gazing from the cliffs.

I’m reminded of that experience when reading Anne Porter’s description in this poem. In the wee hours she is “remembering” what must have been as near in the daytime, just at the end of the street. It’s from her collection Living Things, which was given to me at Christmas. My husband read this poem first and shared it with me only this morning. Devils-apron is a type of kelp.

THE NEIGHBORING SEA

At three in the morning the village is all in silence
But the silence is afloat on the roar of the sea
And all the streets are bathed in the roar of the sea
The waves are at their labors
Cresting and flooding all along the shore
Tumbling and spinning the kelp and the devils-apron
Threshing to meal the morsels and crumbs of stone
And the light seashells with their storm-blue linings.

This is the time of day when I remember
That down at the end of the street there is an ocean
A Nation of fishes and whales
A sky-colored country stretching from here to Spain
A liquid kingdom dragged about by the moon.

-Anne Porter

Ke’anae Peninsula, Maui