My husband and I recently went on an eight day trip to Mexico. We spent a few days alone on the west coast in Ixtapa and a few days on the opposite coast with some friends in Cancun. It was a wonderful, relaxing, rejuvenating getaway.
On our last day in Ixtapa, I found myself both sad to leave it behind (it was amazingly beautiful, certainly the most beautiful place I've ever had the good fortune to visit) but also looking forward to the next leg of our journey where we would be greeted with more sand, more sun and our dear friends.
That particular morning, I went down to sit on the beach. It appeared that I was the only one awake in the entire hotel, except for the bustling employees, who were busy preparing for the day. The beach is isolated from the rest of the resort, its rockiness not all that inviting. But to me, on that morning, it was gorgeous and majestic, the silence and solitude interrupted only by the roar and crash of the ocean waves lapping at my feet.
The beach is set into a cliff, so it has a crescent-shaped wall of rock around the perimeter, with a mouth open to the sea. I felt protected by those walls as I looked out in the never ending stretch of sea water, a deep, deep blue, that I found both inviting and intimidating. Is this how it is meant to be with G-d as well? Feeling him protectively at my back as I move about the life that is open and stretched ahead of me, that I find simultaneously inviting and intimidating, that both beckons and buffets?
I meant to bring my Bible with me on that morning, to read G-d's word while sitting on this beach, this place created through the work of G-d's hand, a place where I have - perhaps through my own stretching and straining - have managed to connect to G-d in a way I never have. I am not a person who reads the Bible daily, nor am I entirely sure that I will become that person (though it is how I started several days of my vacation). The Bible was forgotten in my hotel room, but I found I didn't need it that day.
I opened up my thoughts and listened. I felt the sun on my face, felt it warm me, saw the colors change through my closed eyelids. I thought about the sun and how it got there. Do I think G-d put it there? Not exactly. But I do think that G-d, in some way, made it possible for the sun to exist. I likened it to when I bake blueberry muffins from a mix. I didn't make them from scratch, but I did "make" them. I stirred the mixture, poured the batter into tins, placed the pans into the oven, took them from the oven to the table. So perhaps G-d didn't "make" the sun, but I think he provided the mix somehow.
When I opened my eyes, the world around me seemed crisper, clearer, a different hue. Because of the sun's light against my closed eyelids? Because of G-d? Both? Does the *why* even make a difference?
I sat for a long while, watching the waves beat against the rocks. Despite their force and ferocity, watching the waves was soothing and calming, humbling and invigorating.
I talked a bit to my dear friend from my congregation who is sharing a similar path that I am in my quest for a closer relationship with G-d. I told her how easy it was to feel connected to G-d while surrounded by such beauty. I told her I worried about returning home and struggling to create that same humbled feeling, that same awestruck connectedness...and she challenged me to work on ways to find that same beauty, that same emotion in my daily life and to not give up on feeling it simply because I was back in my familiar surroundings.
So that's my goal for the next few weeks. Right now, I'm sitting on my back porch, looking at the lake and the trees. I built a fire...which I was quite proud of until the fire starter log burned away and the flames flickered out almost as quickly as they started. I'm listening to birds and crickets (and to the traffic roaring by and my neighbor's dog barking), but I'm trying. It isn't easy, but I'm trying.