By Diane Cameron
The beach has always felt like my natural home. I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and summer time spent there meant time on one of the three rivers or a drive North to Lake Erie.
That Great Lake offered plenty of body surfing and lots of sand for walking and playing. But in my 20’s, I started making the long drive to Cape Cod and quickly found my favorite place: Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, MA. I am sure my days—and nights—on that National Seashore were crucial in my surrender to recovery.
Over the years, I have been to many beautiful beaches—Elbow Beach in Bermuda, the powerful beaches of the West Coast, but Coast Guard Beach on The Cape is my spiritual home. Over the years of recovery, I have created rituals that allowed me to leave many troubling issue–every moment of gratitude, and every great love and every great loss on the sands of that beach. It is my place of recurring surrender. I have sobbed there, begged there and danced there.
And amazingly, I have almost always been alone there. Yes, it’s a public beach and very popular but I have been lucky and/or blessed that most mornings when I arrive on the beach I have it all to myself. That may be one of the reasons I feel a deep spiritual connection on that beach.
One of the ways that I pray at the beach is by writing in the sand. It’s a ritual and a very centering habit. I write my beach prayer like this: I take a stick or a sharp shell and I turn my back to the ocean and begin to write in the damp sand at water’s edge every issue, every person, and every institution that I am struggling with. I also write the names of the people I love—living and dead, and I write things I wish for, and the questions that baffle me. These names and words are surrendered to my Higher Power as I etch them in the sand.
As I work down the beach, the surf nips at me and I dance and jump as the ocean tide moves in to embrace and take away what I have written.
Even when I cannot be sure there is a God or Higher Being I know there is an ocean. Any time of day that I stand on the shore and watch the ocean as it moves, I have no doubt that there is something bigger than me, and that Bigger Something always leads me back to faith and to my Higher Power.
When I leave the beach—for the day or for the season—I know that I have recommitted to my recovery and I am humbled by having written my prayers and sent them into the waves.