The beach is my church.
Standing barefoot and humble in the sand, looking out past the crashing breakers to the big blue beyond, my mind and heart vibrating with the sound of eternity in the song of the ocean, I am filled with peace and gratitude (and respect) for the strength and the forever-ness of the great ocean, our birth waters.
A poem by Robert Frost says it well:
“The heart can think of no devotion
greater than being shore to the ocean
holding the curve of one position
counting the endless repetition.”
The yin/yang of geography: shore and ocean forever and ever.
The second time I ran away from home, at the age of three, was to go to the beach four blocks away at Crown Point Shores. Luckily my mother knew where to find me. I did not go to drown myself, even though I was a stupid little kid, but to sit on the beach and eat the sand.
I’ve been running away to the beach for solace ever since. One of my life goals was to do the “beaches tour of the world”, but that’s a lot of coastline I realized, so after 50 years of checking out the world’s beaches, I am now content to just get picture postcards from my kids from their travels. I tack them around a poster of Portofino, on the Italian Rivera, hanging in my garage.
Here in beautiful San Diego, my hometown, a mid-November Sunday, sunny with temperatures in the mid-70’s, I’m getting ready to cruise on bike down to the beach, North Pacific Beach and the boardwalk, to my beholder’s eye, one of the nicest beaches in the world, to pay my respects to earth and ocean, my church.
And like any Muslim, or Jew, or crusading Christian, or Democrat or Republican politician, I, also, have a tendency to fight for my church, as well as being a mother with years of experience, I am very good at repeating myself: eat your vegetables, clean up your room, don’t smoke, save the environment…
Protect the environment and it will protect us. “Semper Vigilans”
“Semper Vigilans” – that’s Latin for: Always Vigilant, and also happens to be the motto on the official seal of Pacific Beach, California, USA. We should all, always, be watching our beaches, and our townships, for danger.
911 calls from people watching the beach and the ocean, and the “buddy-system,” often alert the police/ fire/rescue/lifeguards to persons in danger in the water, and land, and sometimes even rescue them first, especially off-season, and off -hours, which is most of the time, most of the year, and most of the beaches, BUT it is a wonderful , civilized thing to know that the police, lifeguards and fire-rescue men/women are there near-by and ready for emergencies.
And, please, folks, don’t call the 911 number unless it is a real emergency … it only clutters the lines and delays the response time. There are new applications on the official police and fire-rescues web sites for info on “what was that siren for?” Please use them, don’t call 911 unless it is a real emergency.
Giving thanks for the great Pacific: the ocean is a big mother, beautiful, strong and a beach.
As for the current “competitions” seething in the committee meetings of the community of Pacific Beach, to see who will get control of the Garnet Avenue business district, or the beach and bluffs and canyons of beautiful Pacific Beach for re-beautification/ re-development/ re-bar projects, the “hospitality” industry profit perspectives, the dreams of urban design awards, the million dollar comfort stations on the eroding beach for the million dollar egos… pacific thoughts to you, thanks for participating in the process, even if I, personally, don’t always approve of your “winning” ways.
I have faith, and a little fear, in My Church: The Great Pacific Ocean, a timeless, stronger church than any of the man-made ones of ego and money and bureaucracy, and one that will, in one wave of hand, wash us and our projects off the sand. So watch out. “Semper Vigilans.”
Sub-Committee is the nom de plume of a Pacific Beach activist.