Every morning now for the past month or so, I go out to the Beach, and while others run, some jog and some walk, I stroll and I listen.
I listen to the sound of the waves if there are any; sometimes the sea is so still and so smooth it just looks like a giant porcelain plate staring right back at you ... I listen to the sound of the birds chirping up on the trees; and I stroll by the flock of doves on the ground pecking at whatever left over morsel of food beach goers have dropped on to the pavement from their resting benches or picnic tables.
I listen to the sounds of the beach cleaning crew as they go about their daily task, emptying trash cans, sweeping the sidewalks, threshing the sand with the giant tractor threshers. I listen to them as they talk to each other and to beachgoers who stop to hug them, or say good morning to them, or ask a question of them.
I listen to the conversation of beachgoers, young and old alike, men, women, kids. Bald, silver-haired, straight or kinky haired, blonde, black, red haired, short, long, pixie cuts, all sorts of people, talking as they run in pairs or in groups. Thin. Full-figured.
I listen as they talk about health care; work issues; condo rules; summer trips; return schedules for the snowbirds who meet every year at the beach on their return to Florida to escape the cold north.
The solo walker is also there exchanging "good-morning" greetings with whoever passes them by. Mothers and fathers with babies in their strollers. Dog owners with dogs on their leashes despite the NO DOGS ALLOWED ON THE BEACH signs, they are also there.
The man who comes to the beach every morning; cushions the bench with two or three folded towels to sit upon, takes out his Bible and colored markers, and a tablet on which he writes his thoughts is there this morning too. Two or three people have gathered around him to exchange salutations as I pass him by on my way to the "half-mile" marker, my point of return back to my car, every morning.
There is the sound and look of fear there in the eyes and words of another silver haired woman, like me, who stopped me one day to ask if my walking-stick (cane) was due to knee or hip replacement surgery, which thankfully it is not. As we talked, a deep sea of fear emanated from her eyes, "What is happening to this country?" She asked and answered her own question. "Greed is taking such hold. No one is doing the right thing anymore." She had grown up in a farm in Kansas one of many siblings. Her father owned a cow farm. The cows were grown in what today they refer to as an "organic" farm. The family went to church every Sunday, she said. They learned what was right from wrong not just from their parents, she said, but also from a whole bunch of other people. People who rounded up their growing: aunts, uncles, teachers, townspeople. "What is happening?" She said. "People are just out for themselves today. Greed has taken over. Violence has skyrocketed. We are all worried about whether we are going to have available to us the healthcare we'll need as time goes on. Not only do I worry about that," she continued, "I also worry about children and their children. So many of them don't have healthcare. So many of them think they are young and nothing will happen to them. So many of them will not know what to do when they need healthcare and don't have it."
Outside, to our east, the sea was very calm that morning. Looking at her eyes, inside her soul, there was turbulence. The turbulent sea of fear.
Her words were echoed by another silver haired woman on another day who commented on the turbulent times of lies, and wars, and reckless looting of our national treasury to fund unneeded and unnecessary wars. She too grew up in a large family in the middle of America, and she too had, in addition to parents, a village of other people, from teachers, to aunts and uncles and many others who instilled in her and in her brothers and sisters a sense of right and wrong. "There are no such people anymore," she said, adding, "our parents used to tell us, 'you will have it so much better than we do,' now we are not even able to tell that to our kids and their kids. All there is left to do is to pray," she concluded.
That feeling of hopelessness that I encountered at the Beach as I talked to these two women, permeates many of the talks I overhear as I stroll along. It touches upon my own sense of helplessness since it seems that not one of our elected officials wants to bend an ear to listen to us, the people of the nation. It feeds my sense of the surreal whereby in this supposedly democratic nation no one with the power to listen to the people is listening to the people; a nation where Wolf Blitzer of CNN ("the most trusted name in news" they claim) attacks Michael Moore on a Situation Room interview, rather than stop, listen, engage in the subject, and help expose the raw greed which has been turned loose in this country over the past eight and a half years or so.
So, I escape all of this, everyday, by hardly coming to the computer anymore, by talking my walks at the beach every day where my friends now are passerby's, along with the cleaning crew, the chirping of birds, the lolloping of the water and the crashing of the waves on the shore.
I also escape all of this every day by reading my Bible, like the man sitting on the bench at the beach; my Bible, which, curiously, this morning it opened to a passage of Song of Songs (St. Joseph's Edition of the New American Bible) which contains, "in exquisite poetic form the sublime portrayal and praise of the mutual love of the Lord and his people" and includes a depiction of Love's Loss and Discovery.
Love's Loss "