Until I thought of myself as the sea
I used to separate good days from bad until
I thought of myself as an ocean. I used to
split times I felt strong from when I felt weak
until I imagined myself as the sea. Calm and
rocky, wild and soft, still and powerful and vast
and more than any one thing. In the ocean it’s
hard to divorce one mood from another, one wave
from the next. Now, on my worst days, I think
of how good life is too, how I still can greet joy
while swimming through grief. How fragile
strength feels. How I’m not any one thing in any
one moment on any one day. I’m all of it and
all of it is me.
– Hannah Napier Rosenberg
I came across this poem on Instagram and it resonated deeply. It feels like something that women in particular relate to, and need to hear. It led me to my frequent meditations on enough-ness and the struggle to be all of our feelings and experiences at once, not diminishing or canceling either side.
We can be processing a deep wound while also sharing joyful moments with loved ones. We can be run down and exhausted and also grateful for the things that make our lives so busy. We can have humility for our failings as we work to regenerate, and still believe we are enough now. When life feels hard it is so easy to believe we are doing life wrong. But life can be hard and we can still be good: exactly where we are supposed to be on this stage of the heaven-bound journey .
And even as I write this I doubt. How easy it is to say these words, and yet how hard to trust their reality, at least for myself. But my head at least knows the importance of them: of holding the good and the pain of life in the same hand and letting them be. And trusting that they will change and rise and fall and that that is right too. Maybe in another 30 years of life I will be a whole lot better at it.
This past October my husband gifted me a day to myself for a solo beach trip. It felt like a spiritual retreat. I spent a day filling my ears with the waves, pushing my toes in the sand, and breathing, and breathing again. The changing and yet constant ocean is profound. Midst all the crashing of the waves, the slipping of the tides, the bigness of the sky, and wind all around: all the chaos, all the noise, all the movement; the ocean is still so utterly there. There and doing what it’s supposed to. Just like I can choose to be. Just like the Lord certainly is. The waves crash again and again, ever changing, ever seeking the shore. Ever seeking and yet exactly where they should be.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalms 139:7-10)