Sometimes it seems like the mind can’t clear until the air truly does. Oh, the luxury of living near the gorgeous Oregon coast! Late last week, we packed up the car and headed as far West as we could until we hit the ocean waves. Temperatures fluctuated from mid-60s to mid-90s and, thus, so did our experience at the beach — from windy walks to sweaty, sandy sits and the best bite-size forest hike two parents of a toddler could have asked for. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to do it over and over and over again.
It’s amazing how poetic the mind can be when the body is surrounded by beauty. A thousand small elements strike me as profound out there where everything is much more powerful than I am. The enormity of the ocean scares me and, also, comforts me — a paradox that is among so many other paradoxes that exist in the natural world when I open my eyes (nose, mouth, ears, fingers) to see them. The coexistence of new growth and death and decay; the harshness of the elements and the unparalleled coziness of rolling around in warm sand; the feeling of sun on your back and the awareness of a semi-immediate need for sunscreen or shade. It all lands on me within a day and brings me closer to the more naked realities of being human; surviving.
One way I am humbled is noticing our tendency to see the home in everything — and how accessible that is to the very young. I notice as my toddler makes a house out of a hole in a large tree, another one in a valley of wet sand. We “make our bed” over and over again among the toys and towels on a hot beach, and nest under each and every picnic table. I’m moved by this — our human desire to know a home — to kick off our shoes and feel at home wherever we are. I’m struck with how easy this is for him, and how difficult it can be for me; another paradox…and another way that I learn, once again, the incredible innate wisdom of the budding soul.
I’m so grateful for this time in the big, proverbial sandbox. I am reminded, once again, how easy parenting can be when children are truly free to dig their hands and whole bodies in the wet sand and mud and get as messy and dirty as any other species is allowed. And I feel the weight of a tired body as a day of heavy lifting and building and hauling and trudging takes over his little bones and prepares him for the deepest of rest.
It’s all there, of course — everything I need to relearn (and relearn and relearn) for myself. Oh, the presence of grace.