stillness and wind

Lying on the end of the dock, I feel like a mermaid on the prow of the ship, the wind blowing my hair down my back as I face the spray. It’s a brisk wind, funneling waves into this tiny bay, the boat tied at the neighbor’s dock rocks from gunnel to gunnel in the surf. Lap after lap the waves lick and leap, kissing the dryness of the dock’s planks.

This early evening I am grateful for it, this wind, for it also blows the black flies back from my face. Or, perhaps, it carries my scent, my heat, my carbon emission, off and away so that I am less detectable. (as i write this, i realize i rather like being invisible like that)

The first morning in this place, I rose early, hours before Don (as seems to be our rhythm of late). Despite what my head knew about the preference of black flies for the stillness of dawn, I too am lured by it. Eager to be out on the water, in it, with it, I lifted my new-to-me solo canoe from the cartop, eased it into the water, the lowered myself to me knees in her open hull with a sigh. I thought she must be as eager as I to be wet once again, after so many months out of her element, in storage.

Off the two of us set into the glassy morning.

Not 50 yards from shore, the black flies were swarming. I don’t know if one signals the next, or exactly how they grow from an occasional buzz that can be flicked aside into a swarm, but there they were. Perhaps I was like a hot-blooded beacon in the middle of a sea of cool water.

I pulled out my headnet and continued on my way, out of the bay, around the bend, into the marshy inlet, which was an unexpected delight to discover on this new-to-me lake. Along the way, I learned that stillness is still possible, even within a swarm, within that headnet of protection. From inside it, I was able to soften into a curiosity and appreciation of their tenacity and their purpose in the cycle of life. Everything belongs. Deep breaths along with paddle strokes— not to numb, but to quiet the tendency to anxienty, worry or panic, to be present in a state of calmness.

Surrendering to what is.

The practice of surrender is the one that has been softening me of late, watching for that inner brace and letting go into Love or Patience, or Trust. That softening, when I can invite it, invites me to see something deeper than the moment of frustration, anxiety, or pain.

It’s easy to brace and panic when being swarmed by black flies while paddling in the middle of a lake with no escape. But I am protected, by a head net and bug jacket. A few get in here and there but mostly it is just the incessant swarming, buzzing that can set off my mind’s panic, if I let it. It’s really good practice for those other nagging places in my life where I might instead tend to panic or brace or overact (or ruminate or over analyze or worry or try to fix – as the enneagram reveals about me) to let go and let be. I am protected by a net of Love—if you will— from which I can respond with grace.

What is the head net of protection beneath which I can be present with grace? Sometimes it is compassion, sometimes it is mercy, forgiveness, appreciation, grace, kindness, forbearance, wisdom… all facets of this jewel we call Love.

After a few hours of paddling that morning, the sun now glaring and my energy flagging, arriving back at the dock was a relief. I was grateful to return to shelter, to strip off the headnet inside of the cabin’s walls. Like prayer, this shelter offers respite and rejuvenation. Peace without so much effort. And through its window, glimpses of quiet beauty are revealed, encouraging me to go back out there.

Waiting now for the wind to pick up a bit is rather an opposite experience for me. Usually I covet still waters, but here and now, I wait for the wind to offer some assistance to the head net.

Now… I wonder what the wind might be in my life?

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