Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Message From Afar

love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides
each of us is created of it
and i suspect

each of us was created for it”
--Maya Angelou
Day 120
Some miracles can be buried and lose their shine in the razor sharp sands of time that wash in and pile up in a short 24 hours.  I wanted to write about yesterday’s miracle while it was shiny and new but because of a shortage of that shifty thing called time, I didn’t.  Now I find myself doubting that it was even a miracle at all and I’m frantically brushing off the sand and spitting and rubbing trying to bring it back to its original  luster.
I was walking my strand of beach yesterday scanning the sand for treasure, I’m not really a shell collector but I always manage to return back to the casa with one arm an inch longer from carrying a bag of sea junk.  Up ahead of me was a Mexican man also carrying a mesh bag and poking around in the sand and rocks, this was strange because he didn’t look like a “spit and polish” Meridian here for a holiday, instead, with his sun faded, frayed clothing and weathered face, he looked like one of the local fisherman.  Believe me, those poor souls don’t have time to play shell seekers.
I watched from afar as he prodded and dug at something in the sand until finally curiosity got the better of me and I walked up to see what he was so intent on digging up.  As I approached I saw him digging along the edge of a large buried slab of concrete.  He looked up at me and smiled and I tried idiotically to pantomime that the chunk of concrete would be too big for his bag and too heavy to carry.  He went back to digging and I continued on along the beach.  I hadn’t gone far when I heard him approaching from behind me. 
“Senora,” he called.
I turned and he held out his hand to show me what he had been digging for.
It was a starfish.
Now if you’ve read through all of my blogs, you know that starfish hold a certain significance for me.  Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about a starfish I found on the beach and I blogged about my mother and told about the priest calling her a Starfish Thrower in his homily at her funeral. So when the fisherman showed me his treasure, I knew it was special.  I knew it was a miracle.  I just didn’t know what it meant.
This morning I think I’ve figured it out.
As I grow older, I grow more and more comfortable with and proud of the similarities between my mother and me. For years I tried to deny them but one glaring similarity that couldn’t be ignored is the fact that both of us are married to “drinkers”.  Although I would never say that I was scarred by my dad’s drinking, I was definitely affected by it.  It was always there in the background, laced through all the years of my childhood.  Though not constant, the arguments about his drinking were frequent enough and frightful to me as a child. That may explain some of the fear I’m feeling these days.    I’ve been browsing the message boards lately in search of a means to bring a resolution and some peace to my turmoil in dealing with the capn’s drinking.  I’ve read a lot about detachment as a means of survival.  I don’t like how detachment sounds. It scares me. I don’t want to detach from anything.  I feel like that was what I was doing when I was drinking.  I tell myself that the cap’n and I love each other too much to end up like the testimonies that I’ve read.  I’m scared that those women told themselves the same thing.
 My dad never quit drinking, but in the last few years of Mom’s life there seemed to be less turmoil about it and there was a peace in their marriage.  Maybe Mom finally learned to detach herself, but I don’t think so.  I never knew that woman to detach from anything, we worked in the same hospital every day and she still called me nightly to check up on me. That’s how I viewed her phone calls then, now I think maybe she was just lonely.  I get that.
No, I don’t think she detached.  Instead I think Dad was one of her starfish.  I’m sure that sometimes the same starfish strand themselves over and over on the rocky shores and you have to keep picking them up and tossing them to safety.  Hopefully every time you fling them, your arm gets a little stronger and they end up further and further until they are finally far enough that they no longer feel the pull of the perilous coastline.  Or at least you get some respite.
I think Mom was just trying to tell me not to give up.  Or maybe she was just letting me know she’s still checking up on me. Lol

I tried to hand the starfish back to the fisherman but he shook his head and pointed to me.  It was a regalo.  A gift.
We parted and walked opposite ways on the beach.  The starfish curled up one of its legs in my hand.  It was still alive.  I looked over my shoulder to make sure my new friend wasn’t watching and I flung that little starfish with all my might into the outgoing tide.
Today I’m just out there doing my best to keep my miracles spit and polished and pumping my little two pound barbells as hard as I can.  The cap’n better watch out, who knows where I might fling him.
P.S.  There were some incidences I was involved in on the message boards last night that I’m not feeling particularly proud of this morning.  Some of God’s creatures that get flung from the sea onto the beach are not as benign or beguiling as the starfish.  Some of them are like the blue “Medusa” jellyfish that I also find on the beach.  You need to give these creatures a wide berth because even though they may look dead and harmless their long tentacles that are buried in the sand can still cause you extreme harm.   As malevolent as these creatures may seem, they may just be scared, too, and are using the only line of defense that is left to them.  There is no need to poke at them with your pointy stick and cause them even more misery.  I am sorry.


  1. Kary, The term detachment bothered me too until I read or heard, that in the terms of "seeking peace"--detachment doesn't mean not caring. It means a lack of clinging and grasping for more. It is an acceptance of the way things are, rather than some cold "I don't care" type of detachment. I believe it is very possible to love fiercely yet practice acceptance and detachment as in non-grasping/clinging. (I said possible--not that I'm good at it yet-ha! I'm still too much of a fixer.)

    The starfish story is a nice one, but remember, in that story there are still a LOTof starfish that the (man, woman, girl depending on the version) will never be able to save. The key is, he saves the ones he can reach, and has to accept that he can't save them all. But you know he loves still loves them all. THAT is what (I think) they mean by the sort of detachment you've heard mentioned on the message boards.

    And I totally can sympathize on the Troll-poking. Been there, done that. It's always fun at the time and yet later, leave a bad taste.

  2. What a wonderful miracle. Thank you for sharing, I miss the ocean and can understand that feeling of wonder when something takes us by surprise and we 'see' how miraculous our sober life is...glimpses of God's love for us give us strength. Smiling for you today, Friend. Keep on trudging, throwing starfish and sharing.

  3. I only wish to say - what an incredibly beautifully written post! It touched me deeply and I must read it again.

    I too miss the ocean... Take care Kary May! *hugs*