Looking Long at the Sea

I paid attention when he spoke.
“Sit and look at the sea,” he said.
“Look a long time.
Look long enough to become
the sea looking back at you.
Then tell me what you see.
I think you’ll like it.”

So I went to the sea.
I sat in the sun,
high on a bluff.
And I looked long.
I looked wide.
I breathed slow,
and I moved slow,
and I was slow.

And here is what I saw.

Islands, off in the distance,
a low layer of fog
pushed up against them,
like the covers
in a bed just left. 

Kelp beds, red and brown,
swaying with the tide,
housing life
deep down,
where I cannot see.
I know it’s there,
moving, feeding,
following the rhythm
of the water.

sprinkled across
the surface of the sea,
Dancing, winking,
blinking, blinding.
I see light.
And I am undone.

Mesmerized by the motion,
caught by the pattern.
One spot, shining bright.
Then two or three more,
then hundreds of them as 
the wave reaches its zenith.
See that thread of molten silver
as the water breaks against
the sand!

For just the briefest of moments,
enough for a breath or two,
I know the sea,
I am the sea,
And I see myself as lovely.


See for yourself: (and listen, too.)

We’re experiencing a winter heat-wave here on the central coast. It was nearly 80 degrees today, and beautifully clear. Somehow, my parking spot was perfectly situated to see these cascades of moving light as I sat and contemplated the magnificence of the sea. I watched for a little over an hour. I was actually anxious about trying this. Generally, I have a book to read, a lunch to eat, a nap to take when I park at the beach. Trying to imagine sitting and looking for a long stretch was hard to do. The actual doing of it? Divinely wonderful, amazing, restful, moving, sacred. I’ve been told that this experience can be replicated by choosing any natural location that is beautiful to you – your own back yard might work just fine. The point is to sit in contemplation for a long stretch of time – 1 to 2 hours. Finding the time is probably the biggest challenge – but I am now hoping to do this regularly and will make the time somehow.

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  1. Beautiful again – gonna try it!

  2. Thanks for sharing this experience. I am at the ocean in a few weeks and am looking forward to a quiet few hours of observation myself.


  3. Simply beautiful – words and photos.
    Your descriptions of what you saw are spot on! I used to love to sit by the ocean every chance I had and simply listen to the waves. They lull me into calm and peace. I enjoyed listening to the waves on your video clip too.

  4. Although I have never been to the ocean, I now feel as though I have been. Beautiful images and reflection on your time there.

  5. How wonderful, how marvelous…
    thank you for sharing this gem. It was as though watching the Almighty breathe. Thank you for trying something new and sharing the blessing of it with us.

  6. Stuck in the middle of winter in the Rockies, you hooked me good here. Lovely imagery that evokes plenty of wandering thoughts

  7. I have wanted to say how much the post from your Spiritual Director spoke to me. My life is so unpredictable these days and scattered and without regular rhythms. But in it, I am being drawn back to the prayer of silence. When I read this post, I was drawn into the image. I woke up early this morning and the sun was rising. I opened my window and just watch and soaked in God’s morning breath of beauty written across the sky. Thank you for sharing your journey! Thank you.

  8. So glad you all stopped by! And S.Etole, I hope and pray that some day you will get a chance to be at the ocean – it is remarkably rejuvenating in just about every way I can think of. There was a scientific study done once on the comparison of air molecules around moving water compared to regular ones – and those sparked by water that moves (ocean/large lake/river/waterfalls) contained a special something that has been proven to contribute to human beings ‘feeling better.’ Can’t tell you what it is, but I know I read it or heard it!! And it makes perfect sense to me.

    Glenda – enjoy your time at the sea.

    David – glad this could bring you some wandering thoughts – those are always good for us, aren’t they?

    And Pat Spreng? You hit it on the head – it is a bit like watching God breathe! And it definitely makes me catch mine.

    Joyful – listening to the ocean is the quickest and best way to fall asleep I’ve ever experienced. No wonder it’s on every sound machine ever invented!

    Jim and Kim – thank you both so much for your continuing encouragement of my efforts over here. I deeply appreciate it.

  9. This was so beautiful in word and picture, Diane!
    Thank you.
    I wonder if we were at the beach (butterfly) the same time? I wandered over Sunday afternoon from 2:30-3:30 and sat on a bench I’d never noticed before, crocheting and watching…right off the bat there was a dolphin, and later another, and perhaps a whale spouting? The smell, the warmth, the light on the water.
    Why haven’t I been coming more often?
    Let’s do in(RL) at Butterfly beach!

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