Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Sea...Birth...Life...

      It reaches towards me with it's powerful release, extending out and around me, drawing me in and in and in.  I close my eyes and can feel it without it touching me that it wants my thoughts, my soul, my heart.  Then it withdraws, almost silently with just the sand sizzling from the loss of the liquid life that has pulled away.  Just as you feel you want it back, even though its power frightens you, it comes back crashing loudly to let you know it's demands.  I give it what it wants and at the same time I am open to the peace the sea has given me.  How can it know me so well?  I am just a visitor, a mere woman amongst many who watch, swim, glide upon, and study it.  Yet it knows me in ways I never knew about myself.  It has taught me every time I have sat on the shore, walked on the beach, sailed upon the top rolling waters, or clambered upon rocks that hid secret pools with treasures from the deep for those of us who walk the land, to admire and question.

     Though I have never lived by the sea I visited it often as a child to have picnics at the beach with family or friend's families.  At any picnic, I always managed to grab a sandwich with sandy hands and make a unpleasant face when that first bite would give an unexpected crunch.  Ones hands would taste salty from filling a pail from the ocean while making a moat around a castle.  Collecting shells, sand dollars, and driftwood to decorate the outside, taking such concentration to finish yet knowing the sea would take it back.  It's a sacrifice gladly given since this place does not belong to us but to the sea.  

     The sound of the sea speaks to me.  This unknown voice that drowns out my thoughts sometimes and at other times helps me to understand my thoughts.   It seems to know what I need without hesitation.  It's endless song that I never tire of.  Every once in awhile a sudden crash of a wave awakens me from my inner thoughts as though to remind me I don't belong with the sea.  I am merely visiting for a time.  I wondered if when we moved farther away from the sea it would remember our times together.   

     I have a fear of the ocean from trying to ride waves as a young teen.  I had felt so good when I jumped through the waves out a short distance to wait for a incoming wave.  My friends and I laughing and enjoying ourselves.  Yet it was like the sea needed to remind me I wasn't from her and to remember I am just a simple child that may have forgotten the respect the sea needs.  The wave came like the others but I wasn't prepared and was pushed to the bottom and tumbled around before she spit me out onto the beach.   My suit was filled with sand. My mouth was filled with salty sea water which I spit back out at the sea.  My heart was racing and I was scared.  Had the sea tried to take me or save me?  From that day I was guarded around water and stopped riding the waves.  I didn't want that to happen again.   I would walk the shores and splash in the gentle waves but that was it.   

     The sea came to me when I when I was in labor with my second child.   I felt the sea rise up in me as my body gave rise to the waves of contractions that brought me back inside my thoughts of fear.  Like riding waves I feared the fall and what would happen to me.  My midwife, Peggy saw that fear and rode the waves with me.  Her voice helping me to trust my body and ride with abandon.  Her voice telling me "Down and out, down and out" which I did.   To be open and let go.  As long as I could hear her voice I didn't feel alone.  If my eyes closed she was there to pull me back from the place where fear begins.   She led me to where I could feel my own power and to trust my body.  I was on a journey quite different from my first born child.  This one I rode atop of,  feeling emotions that I had never had before.  My love rode with me as well though he could not see the waves that tried to swallow me.  Peggy would be on one side of me and he on the other, their voices softly urging me to see the nearness of my child within who soon would be in my arms.  I spoke words occasionally that made no sense to those in the room, my mind wanting me to flee this moment.  Can I escape?  The pull of the waves constant in their response to my thoughts gave me two waves back to back.  How could I do this?  My fellow wave riders brought my thoughts back to the present.  Let it go.  Trust your woman's body that through the ages each woman giving birth has done.  

     The last wave came and then there was calm.  A peace for me to see what I had longed for.  A time to collect my thoughts and prepare for the best wave to come.  My child, after living in an ocean all her own, would leave my protective womb to slide into our world of light and air.  To feel her descent and rotation as she slipped into our hands so open and ready to hold.  Upon my breast she was laid where the warmth of her small body melted with mine.  Her buttery vernix spread upon me, the last of her sea world, as our hearts blended into a new harmony.  I was in a lagoon of joy.  I marveled at her seashell ears so softly shaped.  Her small toes, her feet, her dainty fingers and hands that had swam, kicked, and fluttered inside me just a short time ago.  Would she remember in some inner place those rocking lullabies I sang to her while I held my swollen belly?  Now we rock on a chair while I sing more lullabies to her.  We rock on a gentle sea of mother and child where her small hand lays upon my breast.  Her fingers gently hold mine while we both are lulled into our own world together once more as one.  

     The sea will always be there in my life.  With each birth of my next daughter and son it called to me.  I knew I could rise above the relentless waves that tried to toss me about and throw me off my course.  Peggy's voice, my love's touch guided me along.  Yes, even when Peggy wasn't at our son's birth she was there.  The sea echoed her voice to me knowing this was a time I needed her.  

     As the years have drifted on and I have had other visits to the seashore.   I once again have time to listen and to be heard.  I found myself to feel so free on a recent trip where I watched my two sweet nephews plunge into the gentle waves near the shore.  They threw long-tailed looking seaweed about with giggles of glee which the wind blew down the beach.  They danced in and out of the swirl of water that tried to lull them closer to the pounding waves, but they danced back to shore.  Running, ever running without a care just as I had done as a child.  Only the third brother, a wee little toddler, felt the fear of the sea as it played games with his brothers.  I watched his careful movements to the water's edge, his turning away from the cold, chilly water.  Not ready, not yet.  He chose to be farther up on the sand where the water does not touch.  I want to tell him "Henry, it's okay, your time to jump and run will be here soon enough."  The day passes by with the wind sending sea breezes blowing through our hair, the kiss of the sun upon us as soon enough the winter days would be here.   Sand clings to our toes in hopes we bring some back to our cozy beds to leave a bit of grit and sparkles on our sheets.  Our dreams will be of waves, birds, boats bobbing on top of the water, and the laughter of a day filled with fond memories.  The pleasure of knowing we will come back and play again.  

     There are times I think I would like to live by the sea and walk the shore anytime I wanted to.  To look for the treasures that I may find along the way.  To watch the birds with spindly legs who run in and out from the lapping waves.   To listen to myself and the thoughts that wash over me.  I ask, "Will you listen to all that I say to you for as long as it takes?"   And  the ocean calls out, "Tell me, I am here."   

~   I dedicate this to my dear Peggy and my niece Shannon for the lessons of life you both have shared with me.  Thank you....I love you both.   ~





Shannon Marie Pace said...

Ellen -- Wow, I think this is one of my favorites so far! (And not just because it is dedicated half to me...which I feel very honored by..thank you). Maybe it's my own adoration for the sea (I have read "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh umpteen times - have you read it? If not, you must!) But also the language of birth, so intricately woven with the language of the sea...the body of a woman and the body of the sea....both filled with such power and strength. And now for my favorite line: "Her buttery vernix spread upon me, the last of her sea world, as our hearts blended into a new harmony." Just lovely! I love you!

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Wow. Powerful and beautiful. This was very moving...

Hero Megan Elizabeth Frasheski said...

the birth description is so beautiful... so well written it made me want to cry


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