My Week 2017, vol. 4

When the week began, the ocean was high and it wasn’t playing. It washed beyond the beach and into the woods, bringing pieces of driftwood bigger around than my torso, img_20170127_151308522_hdrfloating them in among the trees and dropping them. This is power we don’t normally consider on a day to day basis. We are usually considering our own power, whether we have it or not. We think about what people in power are doing and whether we approve of that or not. Many are certainly consumed with that these days. I know I am. But, that vast expanse of water out there has, is, and will do things we can hardly imagine.

Despite the high water on the shore, there were many crisp, clear days making everything around you come in in stark focus. Mentally speaking, these days are really no more clear than a foggy day, but when you go outside and can see farther, when you make out tree needles in great detail, when the ocean becomes this deep blue reflecting the sky, it has this affect that feels like clarity. These clear days have transitioned into several clear nights as well. On the Oregon Coast, clouds often obscure great views of the night sky, but this week the stars have been on display for those who braved the chilly temps we’ve been experiencing. Being out on these starry nights makes the world feel even bigger. Imagine this feeling, standing next to an enormous ocean underneath an infinite stretch of stars. I’ve gone out on these nights and gotten reacquainted with my smallness.

I have been trying to take more moments of quiet, solitary time even if it is only a short break from work or chores at home. I went out several times a day, sometimes just 10 minutes at a time, bringing Digby to throw his blue, rubber ball and get him a little more exercise. The opening of our beach paths at camp are clogged now with driftwood, huge all the way down to finger-sized. I began moving some of these pieces, some probably weighing about 70-80 pounds, but quickly realized the ocean may not be done bringing in driftwood, so I abandoned what might be a fruitless project and focused on the work of appreciating my surroundings.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I’ve been regularly troubled by what life has thrown me over the past year. I have made many of the decisions I’ve made, hoping to be an agent for change, hoping to bring healing and hope. I’ve been disappointed and uplifted, I’ve questioned myself and I’ve trudged on. In some ways, I feel like I am coming out of a season of personal burdens and readying myself for something larger. I feel like I am coming out of a fog, seeing clearer than I have in some time. But, I am waking up to find much work needs to be done. It seems huge and daunting, but I am coming out of the fog and my senses are honed.

In these times we’re experiencing, in these days that I worry about people I love, about causes I am passionate about, it feels like we are in a very decisive point in history. I’ve had the Bob Dylan song, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a lot this past week, feeling the pressure of our country build and build. The song uses this trope that I love in the voice of someone who has been out traveling, who has seen many things. It’s the voice of a prophetic son speaking to an older parent who seems to be stuck at home for some reason or another. The parent asks where the son has been, what he’s seen and heard, and the son tells maybe more than the parent wants to hear. And the son, in that prophetic voice says that something big is going to go down soon, using the metaphor of rain. One verse goes like this:

And what did you hear
My blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear
My darling young one?

I heard the sound of the thunder that roared out a warning
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
I heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

I got out to run for the first time in quite some time. I turned on the new Run the Jewels and took out across the sand, feeling like a man on a mission. That is, of course, a little img_20170127_151031240over-dramatic, but these kinds of fantasies can make for a really solid run. As I made my way north along the coast, I saw storm clouds coming off that big ocean, moving in towards Rockaway. The sky above me was bright and clear, but ahead it was foreboding and unclear. If I kept my course I would eventually run into rain. But, if you are serious about running, sometimes you have to run headlong into the storm.

As I continued my pace, I thought about how this feels like my life on several levels. Here I am currently in a comfortable place, yet headed straight into something I know to be uncomfortable and chaotic, something that will make my run more difficult, possibly painful. But, I am a runner, and I do not want to be deterred. The storm is big, the storm is looming, but I am determined. I am not afraid these days. The clouds lie ahead, and I know what is in store. It did not slow me.

img_20170128_164237138_hdrOn Saturday I took a solo afternoon trip to Cape Kiwanda. It was a chilly day, but a beautiful one, and there were many people out enjoying the Saturday. People were out walking, building beach fires, playing volleyball, doing yoga, sitting on cars parked on the beach sands. I walked up the steep sand dunes atop the sandstone outcroppings. I walked to a high point, barefoot in the cold sand, seeking a place to look out over everything. From my chosen spot, I could see the cape, Haystack Rock, the beautiful Pacific raging against the shore, and many people exploring the peaks and valleys.

img_20170128_165100778From a high point like that, taking in so much at once, it is difficult to avoid feeling reflective. I thought about what had got me to this place on this day at this time. I looked out, thinking of where I’d been and where I am going. I began to talk to God, because I felt just a little bit closer in that moment. I continued to carry this feeling that I could walk into damn near anything, that a great task right now is to endure, to come out on the other side and have a tale to tell. To make it to the top of the high point and see what it was I passed through. To press on. To come out of the storm.

And what’ll you do now
My blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now
My darling young one?

I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest dark forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where their home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well-hidden

Where hunger is ugly, where the souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountains so all souls can see it
And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

And it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

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