Ocean of Longing


Last Wednesday I went to the Hood Canal to check out a place for our Awakening the Creative Spirit program we are planning to offer in a weeklong intensive form (more info on this to come, dates are Nov 11-18, 2007).  I decided to make the trip into a mini-retreat and spend the night in the area.  Tune was with me, as well as my camera and journal — three of the essential elements for a good retreat.  The Hood Canal area is a lovely place, hovering along the edge of a channel of still water.  I took the ferry across the Puget Sound from Seattle to Bremerton and then it is another 45 minute drive from there.  Gliding across the water I felt as though I were entering into another time and space.  It was a powerful time for such a brief retreat.  Much is stirring within me and still unfolding.

Being so close to the water and then taking a hike in the afternoon where all of the trees and foliage were wet with rain from the morning, I began to pray about my Lenten journey.  While desert is the more often used metaphor, here in the Northwest the desert is a very faroff place.  I resonate more with images of wilderness, dense forests of ancient trees coated thick with dripping moss, the cry of eagles soaring looking for prey, the call of the salmon to return to these rivers to breed, vast bodies of water at every turn.

I realized that the ocean and her tributaries speak powerfully to me of my own longing.  And while I am always surrounded by water where I live, taking time to be on the water itself, to touch her edges at the shore, I had an encounter with the great sea and the sacred rain that blankets this area in lushness, I felt the ocean of longing shift through me.

I was suddenly connected to the sea of grief that swims through me and through every living creature as a part of its birthright in this wounded world.  I was immersed in the healing waters of baptism, responding to that ancient call to belong to a community and be able to say this is what I believe, this is how I weave meaning through my life.  I was rooted in the ebb and flow of the tides, the cycles of the great sea rising and falling from the gravity of her sister, the moon.  I re-entered the waters of the womb and the pulsing of the great feminine through the world, waiting for my own rebirth.

I am really not sure what it all means yet except that it is a call to dive deep under the surface. For now, I continue into Lent on a journey into the wilderness of water.  The ocean of mystery that extends far and wide and deep.  So lovely, so very terrifying.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(photos are the waters of the Puget Sound and Hood Canal)

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