Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thoughts from the beach at Lake Superior

Heather said it was ok to cross-post this from my blog at The Midnight Cafe. So, here it is (edited to add that Mango = my husband, Vespera = my 17yr old daughter, Mane = my 6yr old daughter, and Novio = Vespera's boyfriend):

Last week we camped...5 days, 4 nights...just on the outskirts of Duluth. We brought the whole family + Novio.

On Wednesday evening I sat on the rock beach watching the waves come in, nestled up close to Mango, the wind whirring in our ears. Mane collected "rock babies." Vespera and Novio sat quietly, first taking pictures and then just still and contemplative. My heart was so full I could have laughed or cried. Instead I poured out my thoughts to Mango, poured them into the wind and the waves.

I have always loved the passion and intensity of teenage emotion. I love that electricity. And I think we are faced with a couple of choices as we grow out of our teenage years. We can stop feeling all that intensity because it's heavy and difficult, because it's hard to be stable and cope with life at that level of emotionality all the time. OR we can allow ourselves to feel, to be fully alive. And, in being fully alive, we have so much more experience and depth to the emtional intensity that follows. It makes your heart feel like bursting so very often, but the joy is just as deep and intense. Sometimes I feel as though I might drown in my own heart, covered over by the depth of all that I've learned and experienced since those teenage years.

I was aware, sitting there on the beach, that Vespera and Novio were in the midst of one of those deeply emotional moments. Novio comes from the ocean, and surfing was his hobby. Since moving to Minnesota he has not visited a body of water so vast that you cannot see the other side. The water and waves of Lake Superior were both the wound and the balm at the same time. So poignant. So bittersweet. The waves washed up old memories, even while we were there creating new ones.

I asked if the Lake made him homesick. His answer was heavy but quick and direct, "Yes, but Vespera is here, and I want to be with her." And they curled into each other, one wave inside another.

I honor the depth and breadth and truth of the emotions that my child and her Novio held out there in the wind that evening, while also acknowledging that the strength and depth of my own emotions go deeper...just because I've lived longer and known more, because I know them AND I know me. The wild ride of learning that we have intense and passionate emotional selves that begins in the teen years is really only the beginning. I can keep a cap on it better now if I want to, but when I sit in that quiet created by the rushing wind and crashing waves and allow myself to feel, I know that I draw from a well that is deeper now than it used to be. And I am so glad. I feel as though so many people around me have forgotten how to really just be connected to the waters of passion and intensity, of life and vitality. And the lack of connection limits our ability to love, to know joy, to be loved.

I do wonder how this relates to our ability to know God and be loved by God. God is such a powerful, intense, and vast Being. We connect a little bit to that vastness in those in-between years when we're so full of life and vitality ourselves. So much gets lost in the race to be successful, to care for our families, to do the necessary day-to-day things that we forget. We forget to open our arms wide to the wind and let the waves wash over us. We're filled with inhibitions that come from more experience, from fear. But our possibilities for understanding and knowing that Greatness, that Vastness are so much greater as we gain experience, more life, more depth. It's a conundrum, a paradox. Experience creates our inhibitions, but it also increases our potential for knowing and being loved by God and other human beings.

And this is why I love the wind and the waves. I love the way that the natural world grounds me in my humanness while drawing me into eternity, into a full, wide, expansive relationship with God and with others.

I want to live with the expansiveness of a teenager and with the tiny bits of wisdom I've gained since then. I want to put to use the full range of human life and emotion that God has granted me. I am willing.

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