"God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart."
~Edna St. Vincent Millay
I have been spending this week on vacation. It is a time I have looked forward to for a long time. I had hoped that it would be a time when I could clear out my head from a variety of things….work related, home-related, life-related. I had hoped that a change of scenery would allow me to push apart the things that seem to be keeping me from seeing with clarity. I have actually used that metaphor….walking through tall grass….to describe to myself how this time in my life has felt. I have also used my hands to make the motion of clearing the path so I can see what is ahead.
Unfortunately the days here have not turned out as I had planned. I have loved the little towns we have visited, the paths through the tall pines, even the rain-forest like atmosphere. But I am not so sure I am any closer to clarity than I was when I left Minnesota surrounded by large snowflakes falling, making the literal road difficult to see. I understood the danger of hanging too much on any time away but I did not, it seems, heed my own inner voice. Perhaps I had expected too much.
This morning we walked the beach of Guemes Island shrouded in another overcast day, the smaller islands held in a fog that caused me to squint to see their outline at the waters' edge. We watched two fishing boats cast their nets in 100 foot circles, pulling in the catch that will feed their families and grace the tables of local restaurants. As I narrowed my eyes to try to make clearer the outline of fisherman,net and boat, the out sight of a seal became clear to me. Its tiny head poked above the water, looking this way and that, until under the water it went again. Something about seeing this sweet, graceful animal in its native habitat filled me with emotion, touched my heart. It felt like a gift.
Tomorrow we will head back home and I may find myself still making my way through the tall grass. But somehow I believe that I will re-enter my life with new tools for whatever comes my way. I will be armed with the beautiful stones and shells I have collected along the beaches, treasures of memory. I will be surrounded by the strength of the forests in which we have hiked, touchstones of earth. I will find the still point within me that connected to the rhythm of the water we have gazed upon, mystery experienced. And I will remember the way the water broke so gently as the eye, the single eye, of the seal emerged from its water home seeing me, I'm sure, with clarity.