One thing I have learned in my 31 years of living is that when things feel crappy, similar to the feeling of being pulled under by the depths of the raging waters, the tide will turn; just hold on and tread, tread, tread. Just like the ocean, there may be calm waters at sunrise and at noon the tide is low, but by evening the waves may soar with a strong wind and swallow up the shells. Metaphorically, it is just like life in that unpredictable way.
I spent the last week in what I am convinced is probably one of my favorite places, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, particularly Corolla. This beach town has everything within a two mile radius, flanked by the glorious ocean with breathtaking sunrises and the inlet sound with it's lighthouse and beautiful water side park; picturesque, welcoming, filled with creation. There are wild horses hanging around and the beach becomes a road after dark. The houses are beautiful, the beach is wide and the town is clean. There is a small stretch of touristy half price stores with awesome OBX trinkets and pirate t-shirts, not to mention the raw bars with fresh seafood and the small BBQ joint tucked away. There is a perfect amount of tourist with a large dose of "you are home" mixed in. It is magic.
We have gone to the Outer Banks most years since my oldest was a baby. He took his first steps at the beach and learned to wave bye-bye to the ocean.
As my youngest sat in tears on the car ride out of Route 12 on Sunday, I felt that feeling well up in my heart at the same time and wanted to cry out, "I don't want to go home!" The warm sea breezes and the sun kissing tan noses, the feeling of relaxation taking over your body and the time away with family; it is just so hard to leave. But I know that returning home and getting back on schedule is what works best for us and I hope that I can carry that space with me: the peace and gratitude, the longing to find the daily grace and to see the bigger picture.
It has been four months, today, that we said hello and goodbye to my nephew Tank. I am certain that no matter how many vacations we go on, something will always feel out of balance because he is not physically with us to create new memories with his cousins. But I have a hard time expressing in words what we found of him in our trip south. He was everywhere with us, filling our hearts up with love and longing for the best of what life has to offer.
He is a bright light inviting us to find, within, the pleasures of our soul and stay focused on what really matters in this world; Love. Soon it will all be gone, memories buried in the sand, but not before we take time capturing them in every possible way, remembering the ones we love that have taken their turn at flying away from earth. Giving hugs to crying babes and forgiving our spouses and ourselves for the mistakes we make. Holding hands, chasing sunsets even when they are harder to find in the city. We may not have the beach every day, but the spirit of the beach, the place inside that no one can trample or steal, we have that. It takes extra time and work to cultivate our spirit when we are busy and distracted, but thankfully anyone who wants to find the hidden gems that life offers, can. It does not take a 700 mile trip, just a short quiet trip within.
Freedom is allowing our hearts to be filled up over and over no matter the circumstances. I plan to use that truth as my anchor and "thank you" as my prayer.