by Barbara Barnett
I walk the beach of the Gulf of Mexico at sunrise, paying attention first to the horizon –ships anchored, waiting to be piloted into the port. The sky grows rosier. A sliver of sun glows as it slips into my view. The ships are suddenly shining.
Light reflects over the sea and shines on the sand as the waves break and recede.
My attention is drawn closer. I begin to see imprints on the wet sand.
First the human – early morning beach walkers like me
Then the more than human, Laughing Gulls, tiny Sanderlings chasing the waves
A Great Blue Heron was here, flown before sunrise.
The sun is high enough now to cast shadows, and I see the ever-changing tide line – each shell shifted by every wave, traces left in the sand. Grain by grain, imperceptibly creating a new beach.
What a rich source of reflection for me. A metaphor for meditation, for moving inward, for the thoughts, the traces they leave as they pass.
It sounds idyllic, and in so many ways it is. But I came to walk and reflect with the intention of holding a friend who is undergoing major surgery for cancer at the same time that the sun is rising. I want to bring this beauty to all the challenges that a cancer diagnosis presents.
The ships on the horizon become a symbol for this tension. They are oil tankers. In another direction I can see drilling platforms. Only a few years ago the Deep Water Horizon disaster threatened, and continues to threaten to this day, the sentient beings who find their home in the Gulf.
I find a place for metta for myself, for oil companies and executives and workers, for world leaders as they struggle to find a new way of living on this planet, for humans struggling with illness and fear. And for all beings who find their home in this beautiful complex interconnected world.