At the water’s edge

From the Archives: March 26, 2012

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ~ Maya Angelou, Poet

The waves crash. The sea churns. There’s no imitation sea foam here. The storm has rolled in. The rain patters against our windows. We sit and wait with bated breath for bigger breakers to send spray up into the air as they dash themselves against the rocks.  The bigger the better. The show is spectacular!

I love a good storm – literally speaking. I’m not a big fan of the figurative kind. I grew up in South Florida where thunder boomers were a daily occurrence every summer – you could count on one to rise up each afternoon at 3pm. I lived in the lightning capital of the world for 10 years – Tampa Bay. Talk about light shows – Wow!  San Francisco would throw quite the winter thunderstorm.  It’s howling winds would wake me up from a sound sleep. I admit storms like this bring pure joy instead of trepidation. Give me a storm that rages on the outside and I feel all warm and cozy on the inside. The same can’t be said for my step mom, Diane. Storms terrify her. I still remember the thunder and lightning storms in New Hampshire that would send her over the edge. My dad and I would open up all the curtains and doors in the house for a front row seat and poor Diane would tremble in fear – hoping and praying that we would close everything up tight as a turtle in her shell.  She’s probably shaking her head as she reads this and is thinking “Did she really need to share that with the world?”  Don’t worry, Diane – my audience isn’t world wide – yet!

Isn’t it funny (in the uncanny sense not the haha sense) how one thing can bring fear and trembling to one and security and safety to another? You should see the different things that invoke fear in Blitz and Giggles. Blitz and Giggles are our chocolate retrievers. Blitz gets anxious when we set out on a drive while Giggles snuggles in for the ride ahead. Giggles is afraid of heights or anything that makes her think she is way up high. Blitz is always trying to climb up on top of things to see the world. We first noticed Giggles’ fear in Yosemite one day as we were crossing a wooden slatted bridge – you could see the river below sloshing onward. She crouched down low under Brad’s wheelchair shaking in terror.  Giggles’ safe place has always been under Brad’s wheelchair.  Any time she’s afraid – she runs for the protection of her daddy and plants herself safely under his chair. You should have seen her this morning. I took her out for a walk and there was a storm drain in the middle of the parking lot – you could see way down through the grates. She put her brakes on. She was not going anywhere near that drain. Of course, it took me a little while to figure out what was spooking her. When we left the hotel room later in the morning with Brad – guess where she “weathered” her fear of the storm drain? Yep, she crouched under Brad’s chair until she was a safe distance from the drain. I love that even dogs have their safe place.

Do you have a safe place from the “storms” of life?  I do. It’s at the water’s edge.

It’s where I run for cover – my refuge. I find tranquility from the storms that rage within. It is my safe place. Whenever I get stressed out just thinking about the water’s edge brings peace. I imagine the water washing over me, taking my worry out to sea.  If I can get to the water’s edge – be it the ocean, a lake, river or stream – a sense of calm always comes rushing in. Clarity comes quicker. The vast ocean gives me perspective. It brings me back to my core, back to my center. It’s where I meet with God. My true sense of self is restored. The water’s edge seems to set my world back in order.   I think that’s why I haven’t totally settled into Springville in the four+ years we lived there. It just might be too far away from my safe place.

Many of my treasured memories of security and comfort are all found at the water’s
edge. The sound of halyards wooing me to sleep on the sailboat in the Bahamas; a 9-year old Cindy soaring from the bow of my granddad’s boat named the Helyon in the Florida Keys; endless tubing trips down the Pemigewasset river in college; praying at the water’s edge and seeing dolphins come out to play along the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Clearwater, Florida; Kerstin and I driving down to East Beach when we lived on St. Simon’s Island at night to hear the waves lapping the coast – a lullaby to our soul; “surprise” vistas of the San Francisco Bay as I traversed my beloved city; and getting married at the water’s edge in Carmel-by-the-Sea to my Ferd Lee.

Oh to be in my safe place (I’m in Monterey this week – yay!). Oh to envision my safe place. Contentment replaces worry. Peace silences fear. Comfort rushes in and takes over my unsettled heart. I’m at home and safe at the water’s edge. Lisa, my coach, and I have discussed this at length over the last year especially while I’ve encountered new struggles while trying to become a competent registered nurse. There have been days when I urgently needed my safe place. The coast may be 200 miles away from Adventist Medical Center but I can bring it close by taking a moment to imagine myself there. Oh, the power of our imagination.

Here’s one of the simple exercises Lisa and I came up with to help me reach my safe place in the midst of the storms of stress that come my way at work. When the storm comes upon me, I am supposed to take a moment and go get a cool cup of ice water. Then I’m supposed to drink it slowly taking deep breaths between each sip. It’s amazing how instantly the transformation begins to take place as the cool water “pours over me”.  Centering takes place. The challenge for me is recognizing that a storm is upon me and then trusting the process and taking that moment to get the cup o’ aqua. When I do, comfort finds me.

Thank you for letting me share my safe place with you. Take a moment or two this week and contemplate your safe place. Where is it? How does it make you feel? Practice “transporting” yourself there the next time a figurative storm shows up on your horizon.

Resting at the Water’s Edge,


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