Pulling a Shawshank: a Prayer on the Pacific

As we both stood on the edge of the beach, we could hear everything. And I mean everything… the Pacific whooshing like a jet airliner… scant birds circling far up above us, watching us in our bliss as they flew in theirs… the wind bellowing, raising its voice to be heard above the waves. We had walked 1.8 miles on the Tennessee Valley Trail from our car in the lot to this point on Tennessee Valley Beach at a brisk pace to catch the last remnants of the sun’s rays. Taylor was visibly huffing. My breath was a little faster than normal. We made it and it was worth it. It was beautiful. Of course it was. It’s always beautiful here. It was this beautiful yesterday too, except this time I had Taylor with me.

We stood there for a long while. And despite the sounds of nature enveloping us, there was a silence that we heard above it, and in that silence I could feel our hearts beat as my breathing slowed. I stood there, alternating poses between Superman and Andy Dufresne. Hands clenched into a fist resting against my hips versus arms outstretched, eyes and head searching the heavens above imagining the rain coming down against me in a wondrous fury, stretching my body while remaining motionless, practicing my breathing like Yuru Guru had taught me last year. Both Andy and Red would have been proud of me.

For his part, Taylor jumped up and down, flopping his ears, wishing he was swimming in the ocean. He was having the time of his life.

There we were alone, just the two of us with God amongst nature. I prayed for the dead. And I prayed for the living.

Yesterday, I received a text from my best friend that one of his friends from high school had just passed away, to a heart attack, leaving behind a wife, their four-year-old, and eight-week-old twins. So sad. My friends from high school have been having the hardest of times. One of them lost his eight-year-old son to cancer last week. Another lost her sister to cancer a couple weeks ago. And another still lost her five-year-old son to cancer a few months ago. Another friend just had a brain tumor removed, what remains a scar running along the entire back of her head. Another friend battling a neurological disease attacking her immune system. I prayed for them all.

I thought of my loved ones that had passed away. When I was eighteen years old, my uncle passed away in a horrific car accident, the rest of the family including my auntie, and my three young cousins, miraculously surviving that experience, now all grown, among my best friends, and married with families of their own. When I was 21 years old, one of my closest friends dropped dead one cold January morning after cleaning the ice from the windshield of his car outside his childhood home. I thought of my Ammachi’s (my grandmothers on both sides of the family) and my Appachen (my grandfather on my dad’s side) all of whom had passed away years ago; one of my aunties who’d passed away just a couple years ago.

I prayed for them all. And I wondered why there was so much death in the world, some of which made no sense. It was tough.

Sometimes prayer is but a fleeting thought; and everything you wanted to say and you wanted to feel, encapsulated in that thought, the most powerful of all thoughts, one borne of love and remembrance. Other times, it is a commitment of time sometimes cried aloud, sometimes said silently within.

We walked back in silence, save for Taylor’s panting, a peace and tranquility lilting in the breeze that swept through the trees. The Stars were starting to come out.

I thought of a quote from the movie “A Winter’s Tale”: “What if, once upon a time, there were no stars in the sky at all? What if the stars are not what we think? What if the light from afar doesn’t come from the rays of distant suns but from our wings as we turn into angels?”

It was dark now. We had walked 3.6 miles. We weren’t tired, but we were spent. We gave everything of ourselves to our prayers.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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