It’s been brewing beautifully. Ever since reading Shari Elle’s blog about her New Year’s morning ritual, I’ve been inspired.
Well, 11 days into the New Year, I’m happy to say my sleeping bag is sandy and my journal is smudged.
At 4.45am, my daughter and I finally made it down to the beach while the stars were still out. There was a smudge of colour on the horizon. Daughter munched muesli bars. (Quite a feat while flat out gazing up at the firmament. Best not try that at home … or anywhere). We both dozed.
I could hear a low bellowy sound around my ear – frog? Birds began to murmur. Some of the waves sounded like a sloshing bucket, others sounded like a silky tablecloth being unfurled in a long slow sigh.
The squeak of a passing pair of thongs. Morning paddelboaders arrived. Then the sky grew more and more orange.
My senses were so filled with sound and colour, I felt almost stressed with the urge to “take it all in”.
It seemed to me that ‘presence’ can be a very fraught state. Where do you focus when you’re surrounded by waves that don’t wash in exactly the same rhythm each time? Glassy water catching a dozen colours, clouds in a thousand shapes and shades, little drops of dew dangling from the grass at the edge of the sand? Simply being in nature was not at all simple. Shall we call this a state of Awe?
Then, a flurry of sand at my feet. Two eyes appeared above tiny dunes. Then at my left elbow too. Sandcrabs. After a brief gulp and gape, they scurried back into their tiny burrows. Watch awhile. Up they’d pop again. Gulp, gape, retreat.
Sandcrabs – afraid? Of what? Who eats them? Birds I guess.
I noticed some bewilderment – I wished there was a way I could assure them. It’s just us. Me. Nothing to be afraid of. No-one to run from.
Then I remembered that burrowing sound beneath my sleeping bag. I looked around at our thongs and water bottles and bodies, strewn here above the sandcrabs’ home. Our limbs were vast and thunderous in comparison to these translucent little stalks of life.
Yes, I have bulk and power that could blindly crush a little crab. I felt such tenderness for a creature so attuned not being seen or heard that retreat was its constant default.
It would be downright dangerous for them to bank on our best intentions. We were so unlikely to be aware of their existence, these sandcrabs could count only on their own instincts. Their life might be a lived in a constant err on the side of caution.
Even if these crabs weren’t in continual hypervigilance about being preyed upon, they needed to guard against the blindness of tramping feet or crashing waves. Ironically, that very same near invisibility also keeps them safe from predators. To be seen is dangerous, to be unseen is dangerous … ever been in that state? Maybe a childhood home. A classroom. Shopping centre?
If sandcrabs pray in any way, I guess it might be something like this: O grant us the transparency to be unseen by those who are hunting, and the visibility to be seen by those who are visiting, and the wisdom to guess the difference.
I asked myself if there was an intention I could adopt from this micro-moment? Not exactly a New Year’s resolution – more like a rudder for the remaining 355(ish) tides of this year.
What wisdom might I receive from peeping at sandcrabs, snuggled safe in my sleeping bag at sunrise beside my dozing daughter?
This year, may I do more than look before I lope
into any space.
May I pause and inquire – with eyes as well as ears.
May I listen for an answer – with every pore.
Who else is here?
What do they also need
from this water, sand and air
that we share?