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XI. Misc > Wishing

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Lampros | 37 comments Perhaps the worst thing about living in Missouri is the distance from the ocean. A thousand miles to the Atlantic and two thousand to the Pacific, the city of St. Louis sits securely landlocked in the middle of the Midwest. You start to feel it too when summer begins, when the rising temperatures, blinding sun, and boiling air start prompting visions of crisp blue waves and white sand beaches, of running and diving into the surf, then stretching out and relaxing in the shade. There are plenty of swimming pools around but it’s not the same, pools are crowded and boring compared to the sea, like playing with Hot Wheels instead of driving an actual car. And the only way to get to the coast would be to fly there for a week and who has time for that? So here I am, in a coffee shop in a mall, watching people drink iced coffee while I write a pointless essay about wanting to be somewhere else.

The last time I swam in the ocean was over fifteen years ago, my tenth grade spring break in Destin, Florida. My friend’s grandparents had a house down the beach a couple miles from the hotels. It was quiet, and at night if you walked down to the water and listened to the waves rushing over the sand you felt alone and content in a universe as infinite as the ocean is mysterious, the moonlit waves drawing back and back and back into rolling darkness. One night at 3am or so I awoke and went down to sit by the water, and for no reason at all jumped up and ran figure eights in the sand, as fast as I could, until I couldn’t breathe and collapsed on the beach with burning lungs. Not sure why I did that—I think it had something to do with freedom.

Another memory from the trip took place a hundred yards out from shore, nothing tragic, no shark attack or near-death drowning, just a feeling of staring out at the horizon, faintly sinking and rising, melting with the sky, and feeling close to God. Moments like those rarely happened to me back then and I didn’t recognize what it was at the time, but now I know it was Christ reaching down to bless me, to let me know as a kind of bread crumb that He loves me, that God watches over us, even when we don’t believe, and with Him is complete and radiant joy. Everything fused in that second on a raft off the coast of Destin, and since then there’s been nowhere else I’d rather go to get away for a while, away from dry land, from routine, and from real life.

Walt Whitman wrote a poem entitled, “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life,” about walking the edge of Long Island and feeling humbled and inadequate. The poem begins: “As I ebb’d with the ocean of life/As I wended the shores I know/As I walk’d where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok/Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant/Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways/I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward/Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems/Was seiz’d by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot/The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe.”

Whitman uses the Native American name, Paumanok, for Long Island, the place of his birth. I wonder if the Native Americans had a name for St. Louis. If they did it probably had something to do with rivers.


message 2: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 1010 comments I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska for many years. In fact I grew up there, many miles from the ocean. Our only resort was to visit the many lakes that were found in the interior. I believe as you do, that God loves His children. Thank you for the lovely piece you have written here. I can really relate. :)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Landlocked Minnesotan here ....

Bucket list ; I want to see whales in their natural habitat


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