Tag Archives: ocean

Nothing and Everything

A flashback from What Next, September 2015:

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by siblings and generations of family. We’d drive station wagons through gently sloped streets lined with maple, oak and elm trees year-round and lilac blossoms everywhere in the spring. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all migrated to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled over an hour’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I on the opposite side of town. OlderBrother and I walked to school in a new, drier, hotter climate passing ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Discovering the areas surrounding our home gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, orange groves and hay fields. Our favorite times were spent swinging from ropes tied to enormous trees over irrigation canals.

A week before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school, we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became an apartment where there were more trees and a patio, but no yard.

Dad and Mother went to work immediately. Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I took on the new climate, new society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; you either were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and squaw boots, I wasn’t. My main concerns were hand washing laundry and getting dinner ready. When Mother and Dad were home together they usually argued. OlderBrother stopped being my pal and mostly worked on cars with friends. Still, we somehow got from day by day together. Some days were less together than others.

A few months later we moved into a house in a nicer suburb. Eventually OlderBrother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and went there often. The rest of us hoped to go with him some day.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach.

The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I felt I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring. It was our last outing with Mother. Weeks later she left.

I couldn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. But whenever I could, I would dig my feet deep in the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary.

I mostly came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

Featured image courtesy dstiel at Pixabay

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Nothing and Everything – Repost

Our internet service has been uncooperative, (go figure, I’d recently commented that it’s improved).  Today I’m resigned to sharing an early post from Blogging U and The Next Best Thing.

 

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by generations of family. We’d drive station wagons and family sedans along paved roads through gentle slopes lined with lilac blossoms in spring, and various maples, oaks and elms year-round. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all moved to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled a half-day’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I into a square pink house. Brother and I started school in a dry, hotter climate walking by ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Our playgrounds gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, citrus groves and our favorite toys were ropes tied to enormous, friendly trees which we climbed to swing across the canals.  Later we practiced lying about swimming in the precarious waters.

Late in the summer before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school,  we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings, our German Shepherd a box full of her 12 suckling pups and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became a three-bedroom apartment where there were more trees, but no yard. Dad and Mother both went to jobs immediately.

Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I faced the new climate, society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools. Brother and I entered junior high.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; either you were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes, my main concern was hand washing laundry and having dinner ready before bedtime. Brother became cool. He stopped being my pal and was mean sometimes. I was not cool. To him I became nothing. Still, we had four other siblings  and the dog that didn’t care about cool. We somehow got through our new life together, day by day, some days worse than others.

After an eternity of a few months we moved into a house in a much nicer suburb. Eventually Brother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and he went there often. Though I missed him, I appreciated his absences.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach. The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring, changing everything.

Through the following years I didn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. Whenever I could, I dug my feet deep into the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary and the God I knew as a kid in the dessert met me there.

Often enough I came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

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Rough Seas

One of my uncles recently sent a slide show to me entitled, Rough Seas. This uncle and I share a passion for photography and especially appreciate the unusual. Yet my first inclination was to delete the file unseen. Instead I left it sit in my inbox for a few days before viewing.

Now, that may seem strange considering I lived my pre-teen, teen and early adult years in coastal Southern California. As a kid and as a single working mother, I spent more than the average time at the beach or the marinas and lived on a sailboat one entire summer. Stroking a whale off the port side of a sailboat is still my most thrilling memory. It was cheap recreation when the cost of gasoline didn’t consume a third of our paychecks. It’s safe to assume I would love anything about the ocean as I did when I was young.

The truth is I was an idiot back then. Although I wasn’t fond of snagging seaweed and kelp with my feet, even getting caught in powerful undertows did not hinder my love of surfing and especially body surfing with my young boys. Yet, with maturity (in truth, sobriety) and Hollywood’s high tech, graphic movies, I developed a distinctive respect for the ocean and the Great Lakes. Images from Jaws, White Squall, The Guardian and my personal favorite, Joe Versus the Volcano initially gave me a healthy respect for the waters and it has aged into fear. So, even amazing photos of giant ocean vessels plunging into monumental, sunlit waves give me the willies.

And yet, from my youth my life has been one series of rough seas and horrific storms after another. Early on, my heart had been broken so often I aimed my rage at the God I loved as a child. For several years I denied His existence. Years later I still marvel at how He understood me, forgave me and walked with me through all my turbulence.

Most recently, when the doctors told me they were air evacuating our ten-minute-old grandson to the pediatric hospital/medical school, I indeed felt the sea rise and the winds blow. But I quickly remembered another day when other doctors told me to prepare myself to lose another of my sons after he was wounded in Iraq. I knew then too I was in Good Hands. I knew so by my initial recoil, to set those so-called experts straight – it’s a healthy reaction under the circumstances. Like the scene in Forrest Gump where Lt. Dan shouted into the hurricane, initiating his square-off with God – I am a natural redhead. In both of my instances, with deepest conviction I told the doctors very confidently, “you only say that because don’t know Who you’re dealing with.”

Both times doctors feebly tried to prepare me for the worst, I warned them to prepare for a miracle. Both times, they smiled condescendingly, and both times they wound up amazed that I knew Whom I was talking about. My confidence is not in human ability; not even that of great physicians and the amazing people that have come through my lineage. Both times the medical professionals had to deal with the Peace Speaker, the one that calms storms and makes the worst scenarios turn out gloriously.

his stills storm

Not everyone gets to see the marvels I have experienced – in some cases that’s a blessing indeed. Today I wonder if that’s all so far beneath my surface it’s hard to see now. It would still take a direct order from the Heavenly Father Himself to get me on an ocean liner – with a confirmation from an impossible source that it was indeed His order! But when I sit on dry ground marveling over photographs from hurricanes or simply read the internet news sites, I thank God for the storms I have survived – and that they were all on land.

“When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
Author: Edward Mote, c. 1834

Source: Original publication on Roo’s Ruse, 12 March 2009 http://roosruse.blogspot.com/2009/03/rough-seas-one-of-my-uncles-recently.html
He Stilled The Storm Image courtesy, Pinterest.

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