This week I continued to navigate my life through The Gap–a period between the Ending of my life as I knew it and the Beginning that awaits. In looking at that stream pictured in last week’s blog, I think that perhaps I need to spend some time sitting on one of those rocks. Crossing over The Gap
Just as a rock stores heat from the day, I need to store energy for what lies ahead. In the next four weeks, I’ll welcome my second grandson, close on my house, and move to my new home.
In the past, this is the time of year when I would have been worn down and my thoughts would turn to my summer solo journey. Anxious for school to be over, I’d daydream about my upcoming trip, ready for quiet after a noisy year with middle schoolers. Now, after the past three months of sheltering-in-place, solo inside the quiet of my home, I don’t long for silence and solitude: instead I yearn for a journey. Now is not a time I can take off except in my imagination.
This morning when I was walking, it occurred to me that one of the places I’d most like to return to is Martha’s Vineyard. The best I can do is to go back in my mind’s eye, taking a virtual visit by reading what I recorded on that trip.
In my memoir, He Heard My Voice in Chapter VI “Hostel Mama,” I describe one of my favorite places from all my trips. At fifty-two years old, I was experiencing my first stay in a Martha’s Vineyard hostel. One morning I caught the island shuttle to a place I’d been dreaming of since I’d first seen pictures on the internet.
“I rode the bus to what I’d heard was one of the most beautiful sights of the island–the Clay Cliffs of Aquinnah. Up Island, as the Vineyarders called it, the cliffs jutted out into Vineyard Sound where it flowed into the Atlantic. I climbed the steep path a short distance to the lookout. The sight took my breath away; the light hitting the layers of clay in their varying tones of brown and rust; the white-capped water around the tip of the island, a hundred-and-eighty-degree expanse from ocean to sound. I took pictures and thought about my trip to Sedona and the beauty of the light on the rocks, and here there was also the beauty of the water.”
Besides the visual splendor, the air had a buoyancy that caused me to feel lifted that morning. Now I can meditate on that sight and feel that buoyancy that lifts me out of the weight of my life.
I remember the summers when my sons were home and we spent a week at the beach, often with our extended family. We’d stay out by the ocean all morning and come in exhausted from swimming and playing in the sand, a satisfying tiredness from time in the sun. After lunch, we adults would read and take naps while the children watched television or played their video games. At that time of busy family life, nothing was more restful than falling asleep while reading a novel– guilt-free in a house that wasn’t mine. Lately, I’ve taken to putting my grandson down for his nap then reading a novel until I fall asleep. Afterwards, we’re both restored.
On another journey, the evening light was the highlight of every day. After spending the morning writing at the kitchen table of that rural Kentucky house, then the afternoon in town using wifi at the library, I’d return to take a long walk across the property in the cool of the day.
I describe those evenings in my blog post Golden Light:
There’s a unique beauty in the magical moments at twilight, when just after sunset there’s a golden glow to the earth before darkness arrives. Last year when I had a two-week writer’s residency at Artcroft in central Kentucky, I spent most nights observing that hilly acreage as my final act of the day. It occurred to me then that the word gloaming, which is a less familiar word for twilight, sounds like what it means—a golden light that glows.
Last evening when I walked through my neighborhood, it reminded me of those evenings at Artcroft. The beauty of that warm and changing light felt rich, like a present given for just showing up to experience nature’s theater at the end of another day. With the grayness of so many tasks over the past weeks, the exquisite beauty of the vanishing light felt like a burst of color that boosted my spirits.
While I prepare for the next steps across the stream, I’ll look to the resources I have that will give me energy. They’ll include the buoyancy of memories from trips of the past, the creative force of water and light, and the simple renewal of a reading-nap.
May we all find strength we need through the things around us, both in the present and in the savored past.
How About You?
In what ways can you gather the strength you need for the tasks ahead of you?
What memories of previous trips or special places bring you joy? What simple pleasures help you to relax and restore?