Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lessons From The Coast: Walking on Water

The Rocks, © 2012 Susan E. Hance
Near Fort Fisher off the end of Federal Point, there's a wall known as "The Rocks". Built by the Corps of Engineers from the tip of the peninsula to Zeke's Island, it creates The Basin. Constructed between 1870 and 1891, the rock jetty was designed by Henry Bacon to prevent silt from filling in Wilmington's route to the sea. Later his son, also named Henry, would use that knowledge in construction of the Lincoln Memorial.

Locals know that you can walk the wall all the way to Zeke's Island, but you'd better know the tides. It covers with water at high tide. Now days the rock is crumbling and treacherous in places, so walking out at low tide is tedious, and walking back at high tide can be tricky.

One local woman took her young son to the tip of Federal Point one day. He pointed to the area between the point and the island and said, "Mommy, is that Jesus?"

"No, son. Why do you ask?"

"He's walking on water."

The man was making his way back as the water covered the wall, but things were not as they seemed.

Knowing the path I'm walking and where I'm going helps in life. Even when I'm up to my ankles in water, knowing where I came from can lead me back to a solid foundation.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lessons From The Coast: Low Tide

Low tide brings great discoveries, like an array of shells, many broken, but some that have survived the tumultuous trip in tact; a feather, the shell in which an animal once made its home, part of a claw and some man-made debris.

When we find ourselves at low tide, just when things seem depleted, we might feel broken and beat about by the surf, and that's when we find what we're really made of. We find grit and treasures within us that we didn't even know were there, or had forgotten.

Then we find we are whole at the core. Just like a perfect pair of angel wings.

Lessons From The Coast: Butterflies at the Beach

Butterflies at Fort Fisher, © 2012 Susan E. Hance

Have you found beauty in the most unexpected places? The beach holds beauty for me, even when the ocean crashes with all its strength against the shore and tosses white caps across its surface. Most often it is serene when we walk on the beach, with soothing air, the cawing of laughing gulls, and sandpipers and terns running little marathons to catch their dinner under a mango colored sunset.

When I saw butterflies at Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher,  I wondered what they could possibly want from the sand and surf. Surely not salty water for their little bodies and there are no blossoms growing on the beach.

Butterflies near Battery Buchanan, © 2012 Susan E. Hance
But that's where I was wrong. Along the boardwalk Lantana bushes and flowers grew by human design. And in the dunes wild flowers and patches of weeds thrived, with butterflies greeting them like old friends. The butterflies busied themselves flittng from one plant to another, finding life and beauty in a place where it would seem they might not frequent.
Occasionally they took a cruise down the beach, then returned to their livelihood. That's how I like it too. A visit to the beach and back to life as we know it. And I think to myself, "Aren't we so LUCKY to live on the coast?" The lesson is to find beauty in unexpected places, wherever we are.

Lessons From The Coast: Ruffled Feathers

Fussy Grackle © 2012, Susan E. Hance
Maybe it's a beautiful day, a productive work session, a family gathering, or just a trip to do errands. You go along in a good mood; then there she is. The one with the ruffled feathers. Many of us automatically think, "What did I do wrong." The answer, "Nothing."
It has taken me a long time to realize that there are some people who just have to look on the bad side. More than a cup half full, more than a worst case scenario-type person. A person who LOOKS for the bad. As my mother says, "If you walked on water, she'd say 'Look at her, she can't even swim.'"
I tried for many years to 'fix' the situation, but now I know, ruffled-feather types don't want a fix. That would take all the fun out of it for them.That realization makes me much happier too. I can walk on and enjoy life.
There are different types of difficult people in different settings and this article gives good suggestions for dealing with each of them.
The grackle in this photo had her(I think it's a her) hackles raised as I walked on the beach one day. I walked on and I'm sure she went on with her day, without any assistance from me. We were both better off.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lessons from the Coast: Walking Into the Wind

Beach walking. Photo © 2012, Susan E. Hance

Walking on the beach is soothing. It lets me get my thoughts together, and frankly after Labor Day is my favorite time. Visitors return home to settle into bustling lives, school, work, and everyday challenges.

There are lessons to be learned at the beach. It's a microcosm of life in some ways. Here is one lesson. I'll post others in the days to come. You may have others to share.

Start out walking into the wind. You'll be tired on the return trip and the wind at your back will help you along. The Irish prayer says, "May the wind be always at your back."  Of course we wish we could sail along without resistance. But in life, the initial struggle to achieve your goal makes the other side easier going (but not without gusts). 
Memory plays out my struggles to finish college, graduate school, the first job, marriage and parenthood. Experience and confidence make things easier in some respects, though marriage and parenthood are filled with swells and gusts continuously, no matter how many years we have at the helm.
I watch the pelicans glide into the wind, soaring just above the water, using the wind to stay aloft and to control their bodies as they search for dinner. Hopefully I can learn to use resistance to stay aloft and steer a clear course too.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

May God be with you and bless you:
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.

May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.