This afternoon, we needed to get out and just "chill"...it's been busy. One of our favourite spots over the past few years is Arbroath's Geodiversity Trail, high above the red sandstone cliffs overlooking the North Sea. We often walk from Arbroath to the tiny former fishing village of Auchmithie, where we've launched the sea kayaks on a number of occasions. From there, it's a short paddle to begin an exploration of the numerous sea caves and caverns carved into the Seaton Cliffs. Not so much, however, at this time of the year.
It's a "contemplative time". We walk together but, much of the time, we are alone with our own thoughts and meditations. Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet and artist, advised, "let there be spaces in your togetherness". This contemplative practice has been a treasure to us...for forty-two years now.
We took the recently constructed stepped trail to the beach at Carlingheugh Bay, a favourite spot to search for sea glass...and just "be". (It's one of the few places I can actually sit still.) Joan was walking a little ahead, towards the remnants of a sea cave, carved by wind, weather, tides, and heavy seas over millions of years - a good place for a summer swim - if you're careful. Suddenly her pace slowed, she paused, and stood motionless...I knew something had caught her eye.
I had no idea, however, it would be some "one".
It was someone. And who knows for how many years, decades, centuries, millennia, he had been tumbled and tossed onto the sandy, rocky beach? He must have felt so utterly powerless...so completely at the the mercy of the waves crashing on the beach and carrying him forward, the backwash drawing him back into the sea, only to be thrown forward again and again and again. Perhaps he had once come from far inland, carried by vast and powerful rivers as the last Ice Age melted, between 20,000 and 6,000 years ago.
He would have been much bigger at one time, possibly part of a dramatic boulder field or even a soaring Highland mountain. Time and experience had rounded and smoothed his features..but his wide eyes remained open and searching.
It was his intense and penetrating gaze that caught Joan's attention. Yearning to be seen, one amongst a million million, he would have felt and been touched by the deep compassion that her eyes reflect. He looked so bewildered, so vulnerable...so tired.
Do you see him, amongst the other pebbles and cobbles?
He called out, his dark, longing, and emotive eyes penetrated our hearts. We could do no other than to pick him up, hold him, and reassure him that he was safe now, and that he would have a home with us...if he wished.
We told him that he would be amongst the other rocks and stones and pebbles and shells and multi-coloured pieces of sea glass that are "salt and peppered" throughout our home. Each comes replete with memories and stories and some grand adventures. He would have a wonderful time sharing his very unique story...and they would all welcome him.
You know, his expression didn't change, but we knew he was happy. In my mind's eye, I saw a tiny tear fall across his cheek...it was a tear of joy. His life would change forever. Two strangers had found value and meaning in their connection with him. He had found a family.
As the low January sun set on Carlingheugh Beach, we climbed back up the steps to the trail...the three of us, together.
I couldn't help but wonder what he might like for supper, his first with us...we'd make something very special, indeed. ;)
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."
- Kahlil Gibran