The other afternoon, while walking with a friend and our girls on the beach, we noticed the spray of a whale just beyond the waves. Sometimes it appeared even closer, between the second and third row of breakers. Sometimes it’s spray was mixed in with the spray of the waves. I’ve seen whales from the shore before but never one that close. The massive creature bobbed around for a bit, and we walked slowly along with it until it headed back out into the sea. It was remarkable, I never want to forget the experience. It’s stayed with me every day since, and I continue to draw inspiration from that gift.
(No photo of the whale, but here is an umbrella and some birds I saw on the same walk. Gifts in their own right.)
It IS a gift when you get to see a part of nature that is usually hidden. What are the chances that you are in the right place at the right time? Vernon used to say the same thing about seeing a deer in the woods. It’s as if it has allowed you to see it…it almost feels personal. It’s as if you have entered a little portal into a world full of wonder, a slightly alternate universe from the one you were just standing in.
This rare beauty of seeing a whale up close and literally “out of the blue” is a reminder that there is always something majestic lurking just below the surface. The sea is filled with amazing creatures, but all we can see from the shore is the dark mass of ocean. It may as well be another universe from us and yet we usually are so focused on our own circumstances in our own life of terra firma that we don’t even think about that, let alone notice it. But every so often, the veil is lifted. We are allowed to peer in to the mystery for just a minute and suddenly we are a part of a much larger thing. We are humbled, we gratefully receive the gift of surprise beauty. And for a little while at least, we are changed. We talk about what we saw, we tell our friends, we look for new meaning. We remind ourselves over and over so we don’t forget that we witnessed something amazing.
I have been looking back over this blog, bit by bit, to get a sense of what actually happened. I can only handle it in small doses, though…because I see so many details of pain and suffering that I’d forgotten about. But I can also see another layer superimposed over the top…a layer of art, friendships, growth, learning, stumbling, music, beauty, poetry, love. The greatest of these is LOVE, by the way…it encompasses the rest. The veil was lifted…i could breathe in divine air pockets by following the gifts. Little gifts, desperate gifts sometimes. But treasures all the same. And I am changed by them.
You don’t get to pick your circumstances, but you can chose your reality…find the good. Find the interesting. Make it a discipline everyday. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Show up with some expectancy, and keep your eyes open…you may be surprised what you find. You may be surprised how it changes your story. The pains and sorrows of daily life may not go away, but you can also have unexpected beauty and love—if you want it enough.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” —Philippians 4:8