Slow Down the Passage of Time

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June 2000

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June 2010

The ten years between these pictures could not possibly have flown by more quickly.  Our three children could no longer “fit” in a little cave on our favorite west Vancouver Island beach, but we still could spend a few days together appreciating each others’ company as five adults.   The games around the table in the beach cabin were a bit more competitive, the conversation quite a bit deeper, the meals prepared by expert 21 year old hands, and much of the time everyone had their nose in a book.  When we all climbed into the hot tub together, we displaced a lot more water.  However, we still worked to build a sand castle with a moat in order to watch the incoming tide, much like the tide of time,  collapse it with a few swiping crashing waves.

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Now leaping forward six years, there are more wonderful changes, increasing the complexity of being all in one place as a family.  With the addition of two daughters-in-law with our sons on either side of the globe, we can now gather “virtually” to break bread together.  Building a sand castle to watch it wash away has become the stuff of memories.

There is much about our family that remains the same even as we have expanded and now dwell thousands of miles apart.  I rest in that knowledge.  I’m simply asking for the passage of time to take its time washing us back to sea.

 

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Everything Passes By

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Slightly seasick, I keep on writing
of the wind-rose and lobster traps,
seagulls, if any—and there always are.
Check the air and you’ll see them
above straw hats and caps.

The sun at noon glides like a monstrous star-
fish through clouds. Others drink iced tea,
training binoculars on a tugboat.

When I finish this letter, I’ll take a gulp
from the flask you gave me for the road
in days when I was too young to care about
those on the pier who waved goodbye.
I miss them now: cousins in linen dresses,
my mother, you, boys in light summer shirts.
Life is too long. The compass needle dances.
Everything passes by. The ferry passes
by ragged yellow shores.
~Katia Kapovich from “The Ferry”
From the perspective of the shore
there are constant comings and goings
of boats and large ferries
seagulls and terns
waves lapping the beach
and then sliding away.
Am I coming or going
or only passed by
other comings and goings?
Life is too short,
never too long.
I reach to catch a wave
passing by
and hold on tight.
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Summer Song

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“In summer, the song sings itself.”
―William Carlos Williams
A couple days spent at the Pacific Ocean in mid-summer is a rare concert experience: the song sung by the constancy of the tides, the hymn of waves rolling and tumbling over the sand, the cries of thousands of gulls and other marine birds as they flock and swoop en masse.

Today a different flock appeared on the beach–a small group of nuns in traditional habits on holiday, walking through the cold salt water in their lace-up black shoes, waves lapping up their skirts, soaking them to their mid-calves. Their smiles were huge; I could hear their hearts singing praises.

And so: summer sings with wet feet, happy faces, and flowing soaring wings of freedom.

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Hidden Heartbeats

…speaking of stones, what about
The little ones you can
Hold in your hands, their heartbeats
So secret, so hidden it may take years

Before, finally, you hear them?
Mary Oliver

In the laundry room, I often find pebbles in my pockets.  I’d like to think they just jumped in on their own, eager to journey with me, but that isn’t the case.  Instead, they were hijacked.  I tend to watch the ground as I walk, partly out of concern that I don’t misstep but also because I’m a bit of a hunter-gatherer.   As stones on the ground are unlikely to be missed by anyone, there are always a few that make their way home with me.  This isn’t exactly stealing;  it feels more like I am offering them a foster home for a little while, just a blip on the timeline of their long lives.

Beaches are my greatest gathering challenge as there are so many imperfect stones waiting for a pocket ride into my life.  They need to be a little odd to catch my eye in the midst of millions.  They need to be easily palmed and hugged by my hand and they need to have an interesting feel to my fingertips.  I’ve discovered they have a hidden, secret heartbeat that I can feel right up my fingers into my own heart.

These are not pet rocks, worry stones or precious metal to me, only plain ordinary mundane pebbles with the pulse of the ages.  I’m reminded how old they are in comparison with relatively young me.  Each is a solid unique individual, hanging out with me for the time being but eventually will make their way back to a garden display, an outside gravel path, a seashore or pond edge.

In the meantime, they have stories to tell and I’m listening.  So secret, so hidden, so ancient and now I can hear.