Something happens to me when I am near the water, something really good–emotionally, energetically, spiritually.
I recently read that my heart and brain tissues are 73 percent water, so I suppose it should come as no surprise that walking on the beach, floating in the swimming pool, or gazing at the bay vistas off our porch bring me a sense of calm that I cannot seem to find anywhere else. It also explains why the places we have lived have tended to bring us into close proximity with water–the Hudson River, the East River, Esopus Creek, and now the Bay, not to mention the Pacific.
Staying centered and calm is my current salvation in a world that tends to frighten me. Our national leaders have turned away from our long and loving relationship with democracy to pursue an illicit love affair with hard authoritarianism. They have turned their backs on the very friends and allies with whom we partnered to destroy fascism–or so we thought. Oligarchy has become fashionable. Cruelty has become desirable. Human decency has become a sign of weakness, and truth must now surrender to a world of “alternative facts,” or so it seems.
This dystopia is not the world I grew up in. It is not a world I thought I’d live to see. It is certainly not the one I intend to leave for my grandchildren.
A couple of days ago, I viewed the documentary film about the life of Fred Rogers, the gentle but quirky minister to whom we fully entrusted our children several hours each week . . . back in the day. I found myself weeping through the entire movie. There were times I feared I would audibly gasp and sob, and I was particularly grateful to be in a theater that offered pinot noir with my popcorn. It got me through, but the film left me feeling a bit hopeless, grieving the loss of the world I thought I knew and marveling at its obvious contrast with the world that is.
That same day, I had stood in front of my congregation and asked them, “What are we going to do?” My text was from the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the answer I gave them was that we are going to do the loving thing that is in front of us each day, one benevolent action at a time, doing the neighborly thing every single time we have the opportunity.
It has been said that if you take enough baby steps in a row without giving up, you can eventually climb Mt. Everest. I look at our current Mount Everest and wonder how we’ll ever get to the top, but the answer is one step at a time.
Maybe I’ll start on the beach, just to calm my soul.