STEPS OF FAITH
The healing warmth of the sun on my face kept the chill out of my bones from the refreshing cool of the bay. I floated for as long as I wanted to be there, reluctant to end this blissful tropical swim with nothing else to do.
I rarely had the opportunity to swim and wasn’t the best at it, but today I felt welcomed and protected out there, as if the sea had been waiting like a patient doctor, soothing, stretching, awakening many things I had thought lost along the way in the rat race.
Effortlessly, my arms sliced through the glassy surface in a backstroke as I passed rocks and anchored sailboats. Lazily, I explored the surrounding lagoon and marina. The deeper water temperature already cooled my inner core and my soul, the everyday toxins of life, fast food, and routine drowning out into the clean salty water.
In a while I swam back in, tired and needing some food and water. As my feet hit the sand, I felt the needed stability again. For a moment I looked out towards the boats where I had been swimming, and was astonished how far out I had swum without a worry in the world. I decided to sit a few minutes and rake my hands and toes through the wet sand.
I felt right to be here on a sultry August day in Bermuda. And it seemed even more special by myself. I had no one to tell me what I should do or when, no waiting for someone else to finish what they had to do, I didn’t have to compromise on where to go or how long to stay, or accommodate anyone in those last-minute whims I was famous for. My only companions were a few dresses, a couple of bathing suits, flip-flops and sandals, underwear and suntan oil. No torturous high-heeled shoes, entrapment of restrictive dress shirts, no sweaty fragile nylons. The feelings of air, earth, water and sun on my skin and warm earth under my feet were enough for a few days of detox. I wished these to be my attire every day.
Leaving behind the usual had freed me of the caged artist I slowly morphed into, to some extent by choice. At some point in life I convinced myself there was security in my job of doing mundane things in the office for someone else, for another’s ego, and their profits that I rarely saw. But I also locked up my own essence into a wooden box for over 351 days of the year, letting it peek out on a 14 day furlough, hardly time to bloom and fragrant the paths I hardly made time to imagine.
As I sat at the water’s edge and contemplated where I had indentured myself into corporate slavery, the sun had shifted polar and the light now burned on my back, and I felt more of the dread and boredom of life sweat out of my skin like a toxin, and down deep into the pink coral sand. Scooping up the crushed coral in my hand before I polluted more with my troubles, I stood up and walked back to my chair and towel, looking for something to put my sand in to take back home. Inside my meager beach bag I found a bottle of water and chugged it down, then carefully poured the sand into it, scooped up more at my feet, and put more into the bottle until it was full of tan and pink granules. Satisfied, I saved some purity to take back with me to the cubicle city.
Maybe it was silly for a grown woman to be making sand castles or putting some in a bottle like a famous cliché, but I wasn’t here to impress. I wanted to find me again and save this moment of revelation in this bottle for when I felt like I was trapped in a familiar bubble back home; at least I could sift the memories of today through my hand whenever I needed a retreat.
Later, after exploring the caverns and cooler pools, I showered and had an early dinner. I dressed in a light cotton dress and flip-flops, ready for the band and tiki torches, a breathtaking sunset, and an umbrella covered cocktail with my feet in the pool or the lagoon, the fish nibbling at my feet, and going over my wish list for the next day.
The privilege of doing nothing or everything I wanted was at my disposal and I vowed to keep the to-do list light and fun. The sunset, beyond my expectations in extraordinary color combinations I rarely had the time to see anymore, had me wishing for my paints, canvas and brushes to try to capture it. I took a picture with my camera but it was still something I wanted to paint, to pour my rejuvenated spirit onto the canvas and let the viewer feel what I witnessed this evening.
Blackness shadowed the tropical canvas in the sky, leaving billions of stars twinkling against the universal dark and shimmer their lights on the black water. I counted thirteen shooting stars as I lay back on a lounge chair, making wishes for each one.
The rest of the week was just as relaxing and rejuvenating as the first day had been. Unplugged of my electronic leash, I had worked on a few items from the bucket list, including some underwater sea exploration with a special camera, and the Dark and Stormy Swizzle trail at local taverns with some new friends. Renting and driving a scooter proved to be a challenge when driving on the left side of the road, but I proved I could do it, driving across the islands for tours of cays and lighthouses, the world’s smallest bridge, small pastel roofed towns, cricket tournaments, wedding parties and bay side barbecue buffets. My nights greeted me with the reggae bands, stray chickens, cicadas, and many more shooting stars.
On my last evening I looked out to sea and knew that my outlook had already changed; my old thoughts taken out deep. Renewal to stand strong once I am back to regular life was again a best friend by my side. While curling my toes into the wet sand, I was determined my choices will be more steadily balanced steps on solid ground and thought out decisions based on God’s Will instead of my own. Going back to the mainland no longer seemed such a dreaded struggle as it had on my first day, but I would miss every moment of this sabbatical.
Just like the tides changing the shorelines little by little every night, so was the affect my stay here had on my reflections of the past, and new attitudes and life plans for all the tomorrows; the storms, the sunny days, and the evolving dunes to explore between them.