The warming trend on the Oregon Coast that’s characterized the past few weeks slowed down a bit. Enough clouds hung in the sky to cool us down a few degrees but not so much it was gloomy, prompting lots of comments like, “Man, it feels great today.” These are days that make even 30 minutes spent in the office seem like a waste of life experience. We have had so many gorgeous days this summer already, but this glut of postcard scenery fuels my desire even more not to squander a pretty day on too many tasks. If there’s not enough time to stop and take all this in each day, it’s time to ask why we do what we do.
For reasons I won’t go into, it was a week with a few difficult moments. I was part of some hard decisions that would have been tough either way. At the end, I felt exhausted physically and emotionally. I felt like I was in this shell, and everything else was happening around me normal, but I was not myself. I couldn’t step out of those feelings for a while, because when you do something difficult, that’s what it does to you. I felt like I needed to stay there and sit with my feelings for a time, to feel the hurt that would come out of it and try to know how to be loving. I wanted to be brave, I wanted to do something better than normal. Everything was happening still all around. I felt like slow motion.
Megan and Ethan dropped back in this week to pack up their stuff and say goodbye after a two day hiking trip next to Mount Hood. Megan is Hope’s twin sister, and she and Ethan came last week to dean a camp for us. We joined them with Hope at the Pelican, a place we take just about every visitor. They shared tales from the Pacific Crest Trail, updated us on their life in Chattanooga, and talked camp–as all of us tend to do when we get together. I think often how you never know where the road will lead with people. None of us, I’d wager, ever thought we’d sit around a table in Tillamook, Oregon after finishing up a camp week at a different camp on the coast. It’s funny how we can be pulled together, split apart, then put back together in ways we can’t expect.
After a busy week, I got to resume my daily tradition of watching the sunset. Allyson began to join me with regularity for the first time, as the week went on. This has become a sort of spiritual cap to the day. If you go out around 8:30, there is time to see the sun flare up and cross below the horizon. No sunset is exactly the same. Sometimes there are clouds, sometimes a wide range of colors. The sun sometimes blobs out. It takes on the shape of various fruits. Whatever it is, I feel like the sunset is one of the most important things for me to witness each day, here at the edge of the world. I feel like I’m marking something each day, noticing something that should not go missed. I want to sit with this, to be ok with everything just happening outside of me for the moment. This should be seen. I should try to know what it looked like each day.
Looking back at this week, there are moments that have been blurred, maybe just glossed over by my mind. I want so badly to do what will be best, I don’t want something hollow or fleeting. I’m trying to find that, but we all have moments where it seems like we’ve just tugged ourselves through the day, and that’s all we could do. It somehow doesn’t seem enough. I called my dad, because I knew he knew what I was dealing with. I sat out under a few burnt out shore pines, facing the ocean as the sun made it’s approach to the end of the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t really have many answers for each other, but to know we’d both been through this and felt similar feelings was a comfort. I didn’t need sympathy or reassurance–I was not the worst in this. I just wanted to come back, to return to work to try to get back to healing.
On my day off, Allyson and I went to Garibaldi Days, a weekend festival featuring vendors and music in the nearby fishing town of Garibaldi. We parked our car and made our way down the sidewalk to check out the booths. It began raining almost immediately. We kept walking from tent to tent, but the rain got stronger and stronger. By the time we decided to return to the car, the rain had reach its strongest. We were soaked. Still, I was glad to see it, because I knew we needed it fall and soak the sandy dirt. It washed over the coast, and I’m sure it was an inconvenience for this annual tourist event. My clothes were wet for most of the day. But I know the uncomfortable moments I experience are laced with blessings.
There are things hidden in all this. I have no idea how these events will weigh on the future. I hope my path continues to cross that of the people I’ve said hello and goodbye to this week. The path is not always an easy one to walk, but I hope I remember to lift my head and see the beauty in it. I will follow the sunlight until it outruns me. Even when it gets dark, even when I can’t see anymore, I hope I’ll remember to be patient. That light returns, that we live according to cycles. Turn with them.
Rik, Camp Magruder’s Facilities Manager invited us to his uncle’s deck in Garibaldi for the fireworks show. I stood out there with my wife, with Hope, with this staff who I’ve spent the summer with, along with these new people I just met. The colors and lights and booms surrounded us. Who were we all to end up here on this night seeing this in the sky? What will come of our time together? Will it grow? Will it last? God, I hope so. I stood behind Allyson, my arms wrapped around her waist. Light flashed over and over. I squeezed tight, hoping, praying.