Here is one of the places I have found where I can get a signal on the island. Not a bad option, if I must get on a computer.
Super low tide this morning. It is one of the continuing sources of fascination, living on the shore, especially in this region of rather dramatic tide variations. Not only the character of the sea, but the actual physical landscape changes from moment to moment.
So many massive rock formations, covered in barnacles or seaweed, spend half of time in an underwater world. We get a little glimpse into that world when we stand on stones that were ten feet under the surface of the ocean just a short time ago. The barnacles carpeting these rocks make a collective gurgling noise as their water supply slowly leaks out of them (or so it seems to my unscientific ear).
I have to step very carefully during low tide, since the rounded stones are wet and slippery, and the barnacles are razor sharp. I count on the barnacles for stability under my feet, and I count on the seaweed as a place to lay my hand without incising my skin as I climb around the crags.
The lowest low tide does not last long, and you have to hurry to fit in any planned explorations for crabs, starfish, eels, mussels, sand dollars, and other unidentified sea treasures. Inevitably, the tide rolls back in and that world is no longer accessible.
It’s a little bit the same with family togetherness. There are so many treasures to be found in coming together as a family. We have had a wonderful time all gathered out here on the island for these few days, but there have also been moments that are slightly fraught with tension. When you get to that stage in life where a family assembles less and less often, you run the risk of feeling undue pressure to gather up every treasure you can in a hurry -- before the tide rolls in, before that world is inevitably no longer accessible.
And it is no use deluding ourselves into imagining that everything here will be here the next time. Just like the changing aspect of the tidal shore, changes take place in families too, sometimes permanent ones. By the time the next low tide comes around, and everything is revealed again, a giant rock is out of place, or has been tumbled away by the waves entirely. That only adds to the fretful feelings of grasping on to the moments we have. But the grasping part can mar the moments.
Then there is the tyranny of togetherness. EVERYONE must get up together for breakfast! EVERYONE play a game. EVERYONE – to the beach! EVERYONE get in the photograph. It can be hard to resist -- that fervent, sincere mission in the loving crowd to make sure that no one will miss anything. It’s enough to drive EVERYONE away, for some peace and quiet.
It is not unfamiliar to me, this feeling of panic that flits around the edges of my calm when a family gathering takes place. I took a trip with my mother and three sisters many years ago – the first and only time such a thing has happened. I was in such a state of high intensity the first few days, so excited and determined to make the most of every moment with these favorite women in my life, that I exhausted myself. I made it hard to relax and enjoy the trip – so determined to BE with my mom and sisters in a MEANINGFUL way, that I was almost too preoccupied to just enjoy them.
There is an art to the enjoyment of gatherings with family. We must all continue to work on mastering the art. Be together casually, even when it is fleeting. Try not to worry about squeezing in every possible moment of connection RIGHT NOW. Take a deep breath, look carefully into one another’s faces, hug. Then sit side by side with books, or looking at the view. Being together can be a quiet thing.
We are a collection of individual lives, each of which must continue to evolve even as we are together. Live in each other’s company gently for whatever slips of time we have before life sweeps us each back away into our own ocean worlds. Love, love, and let the tides roll.