“All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”John F. Kennedy
Water is in our fabric. Literally. I don’t think it is any coincidence that we’re made of the same balance we find in the sea. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, leaving it unconquerable, uninhabitable, and untamable by man, for the most part. Great bodies of water have been a source of great reflection, forever.
We need it, we’re made of it, it’s made for us. And some of us, I’m guessing most of us, need to be in it or near it, regularly. I know do. Quite literally, I thirst for it. Which is why I go take a glance of Lake Michigan most every day, or drive the hour to Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho even just for a momentary take-your-breath-away dunk in those sparkling sapphire glacial waters. I do the same in Florida in the shark infested waters off the little island I have frequented all my life. A friend laughs because when we go for a dunk at the end of our evening beach walk, I’ll do mine in about 18” of surf. I love the ocean, I need the ocean, and I respect what lies beneath the surface there.
I had the good fortune to be by the water today; soft breeze, lapping water; it was magical. I sat there and really appreciated the quiet, knowing it wasn’t going to last, but enjoying every moment of it. Then a couple walked by, and as they did, the man said to the woman, “I like him, I just don’t think he’s son-in-law material.” Then up came some college kids, phones in their faces, taking selfies. They ended up settling close enough to me that I got to hear all about a few of their not-so-romantic lives. Good Lord. And they were really loud, but you know what? I didn’t care. Because we were all just there, hanging out in this beautiful presence.
Water, salt water especially, is a great equalizer. We are humbled by its magnitude, awed by its beauty, intrigued by its “moods,” as my mother called them, which in many ways reflect our own. Sometimes there is choppiness on the surface, but deep still waters lay beneath. Deep water serves as an analogy, fit for meditation. Certainly reflection.
I have a few friends with boats who take me out on the water when I need to be. I’ve had some great escapes with them. One friend lost his brother last year. He told me he would cruise out a few miles off shore in the early morning, and that’s where he would communicate with him. Out loud, or otherwise, I am not sure, but it was where he felt connected to his brother.
“Hark, now hear the sailors cry, Smell the sea, and feel the sky; Let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic,” sings Van the Man Morrison.
After my mom died last summer, and the frenzy of her funeral was over, and I’d dropped my firstborn at college, I was spent. In my heart, I knew I needed to be away, and out on the water. So, I pretty much beelined to Michigan, and made a plan to get on the lake right away. I’m infamous for sleeping through early morning water ski plans, but not that time.
Instead of staying in bed, I got up and out before the mystical fog, which hung over the distant shoreline that cool early morning, had lifted. (pictured above.) Five girls on tubes screamed with delight, which added to the ambience, as did a restorative offshore swim. The whole scene was sheer bliss.
I am thankful for friends (with boats!) who feel the same call of the water, and call me to come out with them when conditions are such that I need to be out there. Do you have opportunities to be out there, or on a shoreline, or even just to catch a glimpse, or have a reflection? It’s a great way to meditate.
Enjoy an excerpt, from a poem called “In Praise of Water,” by John O’Donohue;
Let us bless the humility of water,
Always willing to take the shape of whatever otherness holds it,
The buoyancy of water
Stronger than the deadening, downward drag of gravity,
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought of what awaits it,
The refreshment of water,
Dissolving the crystals of thirst.
Water: voice of grief, cry of love,
In the flowing tear.
Water: vehicle and idiom of all the inner voyaging
That keeps us alive.
Blessed be water, Our first mother.