You know the bit in Psalm 23 where the Psalmist finds peace beside the still waters and the green pastures? Sometimes that works for me too. But more often when I need a place of solace, silence and solitude, I find it on the edge of the sea.
This has been a week of sadness following a family bereavement. By the end of the funeral yesterday and then the journey home I was tired and inwardly out of sorts. No surprise there.
But this morning I knew what I wanted to do. Sheila and I went down to the front, bought a capuccino to go, and walked awhile. Then I stopped, Sheila walked on and i sat awhile listening to the rhythm of the waves, watching the play of sunlight on water, sand and stone. Few things for me, reconfigure the mind and restore the rhythms of the heart more gently than the sounds and sights of this ancient toing and froing of the sea. I almost never come away from the beach without a stone - shaped and smoothed by the faithful monotony of wave, after wave, after wave - patiently, persistently and playfully rolling rocks against each other, the lapidary friction defining the grain and structure of each stone.
And maybe, just maybe, minds overtaxed and overtired learn again the significance of slowness; hearts carrying excess baggage lighten up in the sunlightl; and that fragile reality we call the self recovers equlibrium and the soul is restored. I often find that the presence of God becomes more tangible, or discernible, in those places where you can lose yourself - by which I mean, for a short time let go of that self-preoccupation that silences other voices and obscures the reality of the God who, as Nicholas Lash says, 'does not shout'.
Haiku, The Sea, and Grace Sufficient.
Not our neat rhythmic prose
but sunlight on sand and stone
speaks our heart's true need.
The gentle rumble
of stone on stone; the sea's gift
of polished granite.
The liquid mercy
of waves, the sand's kind friction,
grace that heals, and saves.
(C) Jim Gordon
I took the photo while finishing a wonderful capuccino to go from The Pavilion Cafe.