My classmate, friend, and gracious host, Fr. Brian had a Baptism yesterday, and I accompanied him to the family home for the little reception afterwards. I am always in awe of the artistry with which maritimer pastors cultivate relationships with the people they serve - it really is as though they become a member of each family into which they enter or with whom they journey along the multifaceted paths of life. I marvel at how different we are, and at how the Lord is pleased to communicate Himself to people through rather than despite those differences.
Still, it's summer for him too, and I have noticed signs of his tiredness; so I was glad to give him reason to leave early, for my plan for the late afternoon was to jump into the sea water nearby. The family recommended a pebble beach closer than the provincial park, which I hope to visit the next few days, and we went there. It gave onto the Northuberland Strait and is actually about midway along the western coast of the island. Brian has to watch his exposure to the sun and was content to sit on a towel and spend time with the Lord, with the help of his Breviary.
For my part, I put on some lotion, went down to the water's edge, did some warm ups and stretches, and waded out. To my amazement, the first few steps I went down a few feet, but then found myself back up on a sandbar - it was like walking on water - with inches of water as the waves of the surf left ripple lines parallel to the shore every few inches in the sand below. About 100 meters out, I found depth of water I could swim in, and soon found myself over my head. Allowing the surf to carry me, I was transported back in time as it were to all the other moments as this, on vacation, where I swam out into the waters of a lake - such as at Nova Nada Hermitage years ago in North Kemptville, Nova Scotia, or as on the beaches of Eastern Point in East Gloucester, Massachusetts, where I went for an annual directed and silent retreat in 1982 and from 1985 to 1989 - and even now as I write these lines I sense myself caught up into the hymn of the creatures: "Seas and rivers, bless the Lord, you fishes and creatures moving in the waters, bless the Lord!"
Though we forget it, living as we do in a world where we have so much power to control our environment and living conditons through the myriad buttons we have to press - such as these very keys connected to the hardware and wires that are bringing these words to you - we are each of us living creatures, sturdy yet fragile, just as dependent on our Creator for our next breath as all the creatures around us. The warm, refreshing sea water washed all worry and concern from my limbs, and cleared my mind so well it seemed to find itself in communion with my heart and spirit. We were one, one with the One from whom we come, to whom we are returning, and who holds us in being moment by moment by the sheer stability of his will.
Though I was in the water for only 20 minutes or so - did I swim longer than 15? - perhaps I was there 30 or more.... I lost track of all time.... the peace that came over me enfolds me still. What a blessing it is anytime we allow ourselves to live a more natural moment, a more natural hour, a more natural day, a more natural life.
In those moments, You seem so obviously present, our Father and Creator. We seem so naturally to find ourselves walking along in the company of Jesus, your Son; yet in a manner that is so innocent and unselfconscious - it is only later, such as now, that in looking back in order to relate the blessed moment to another - that we become aware that You are here, and our heart and soul, body and mind, raise up to You grateful expressions of praise and gratitude! Blessed are You, Lord God of all Creation, in the orderly multitude of your creatures, and blessed are You in your blessed trinity of Persons! Glory be to You, forever and ever. Amen!
Sublime moments, yet apparently so trivial, like today. I went shopping for some pasta sauce and local fish, finding scallops and shrimp. We had gone out for supper last evening to the North Port Pier Restaurant, after we came back from the beach and showered. We could observe the huge herons standing in the water, fishing, motionless, ready to strike with lightning speed. We had a wonderful time, and slept well. This morning, we kept separate routines: I prayed while Brian worked on his homilies for a wedding and Sunday. I then went for a long walk back to the pier, met a fisherman and RCMP officers, came back for a shower and breakfast, and then went shopping. It was so relaxing, such a natural thing to do, to pan cook the scallops and shrimp, add them to the simmering sauce, cook the pasta, and sit down to a late lunch. Trivial, yet sublime moments of life.
It seemed a natural thing to do for me to follow up on my offer and celebrate the 4:30 Mass for Brian at the St. Bernadette chapel some 15 km away and preach extemporaneously. It was a pleasant, living connection with the 85 or so folk there; as was the light dinner with an elderly couple who have been offering hospitality to the priests for decades. Lord, bless them! So, here we are, coming to the end of another day, aware that I am glad to be alive. Thank you, Father.