The Healing Shore

by Mary Clista Dahl

The first step out into the sand after an extended absence is especially healing.  I never take for granted the rejuvenating power of the seashore.

Celestial bodies reign here.  At the water’s edge, the sun’s warmth casts a spell on those who worship it.  It diligently pushes away many threatening clouds.  And it commands attention in the evening as sunset gazers gather with cameras and each other to watch as it beautifully and faithfully disappears into the horizon to begin a new day somewhere else.  Meanwhile, the moon takes over as the skies dim, sending a guiding reflection onto the water, protection from the vast darkness.

During the day, the incoming and outgoing tides provide an eternal filtering mechanism for Mother Nature.  It is mentally cleansing to imagine your negative energy being pulled out and positive energy replenished by the endless wave action.  Even if you walk the beach every day of your life, you will never see the same thing twice.  The surf is constantly changing, imitating life.  Sea life washes up always.  Sometimes it survives, sometimes it dies and sometimes it struggles, defying all odds, randomly rescued by a stray wave or human intervention.

The seashore is alive with nature’s soundtrack.  One cannot ignore the audible, hypnotic rhythm of the waves.  It speaks a universal language that says, “listening  to me will quiet your soul.”  In the background are gulls and seabirds sharing calls.  Far away are the upbeat sounds of children laughing and people exchanging pleasantries with warm relaxed “away from it all” voices.  These are all wrapped up in the background of the sound of the sea breeze.

I am a Northern girl, accustomed to the landscape of the Great Lakes.  This includes the splendor of Niagara Falls, spectacular fall foliage displays and hiking trails paved with pine needles.  I understand nature’s beauty.  But as amazing as these are to behold, they do not surpass the healing properties of the beach.

When standing in the sand, back to the land, arms outstretched toward the water, I experience a comfort not offered elsewhere.  Mother Nature accepts and welcomes.  She nurtures without judgment.  For those who have everything and for those whose lives seem inconsequential, she is impartial.  She gives unselfishly, offering her indefinite horizon of time, space and dimension.  For the desperate, she offers a permanent embrace as an escape from infinite pain.  Mere seconds and waves separate hopelessness from paradise.

She is reliable, demonstrating her commitment to be there whenever I arrive.  She listens to my concerns, questions, musings.  She provides no answers, just a careful ear to lend while she goes about her busy business.   This is not the setting for everyone.  For those who find the sand gritty and abrasive, the sun unbearably sweltering and shells irritating beneath their feet, this is not the place.

Yet, nestled in the sand dunes, surrounded by beach flowers and the whispering sea oats and waves, this is where I want to take my last breath.