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Waves on a rocky shore

The rocky shores of Lake Superior were the most inviting and welcoming sight I had seen all year. My heart picked up with the pace of my steps as the sounds of the waves washed against the shore. In all my life, I have never heard waves like hers before, and if you’ve been there, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was the beginning of July, and she was peaceful. We had never been to this shore before, but that didn’t change anything. She is, and will always be, a part of me.

We greeted each other as old friends as I laid my offerings down to her and said my hellos, my eyes misting at the sudden whoosh of renewed connection. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed her. I had changed immensely since the last time we had seen each other, having experienced the most difficult year of my life. Unwanted tears streamed from my eyes as the bond of friendship was renewed between us, reminding me of the friendship I had lost. I quickly pulled back, shoved my feelings of grief and loneliness to the side, and threw up a barrier between Lady Superior and I. My husband and step son milled about around me, unaware of the sudden wealth of pain coursing through me, looking for the best rocks to skip across her surface.

I could feel her reaching out for me, confused and yearning to comfort the sudden arrival of these emotions, but I pulled even further away from her touch, afraid to lose the carefully constructed control I had built, thinking I would never resurface again should I allow them in. She pressed a little bit more, but respected my boundaries, choosing to stay just out of reach but still within my presence.

Clearly in my mind, I heard her cool, gentle voice that sounded like waves lapping at the rocks say to me “I can help, if you let me.” Her kind words forced the pain up into my throat and I pushed back, gathered the boys, and returned to the town for dinner. New feelings of betrayal and guilt sprang up within me by refusing her help, but I shoved those aside, telling myself I wasn’t ready to deal.

The following morning, we wandered the deep dense forests of the north and welcomed in the summer that had just arrived for the Upper Peninsula. The trees and flowers were in full bloom and brought about a sense of peace within me that I hadn’t realized I had been missing. We spent the day amongst the giants of the north, marveling at the wild beauty of untouched forests.

That evening, exhausted by our miles of hiking through old growth forests, we made our way up to one of the Northern most beaches on Lake Superior in Michigan to watch the sun set. As we walked down the path to the shore, the sound of the waves welcomed us and I felt her reaching out to me once more, but not pressing to connect. Her waters exhibited waves that were much larger than they were the night before as the winds began to pick up and carry them to crash against the deep earthen red of the rocks that covered the beach.

My sadness and grief created a sort of shell that surrounded me, protecting me from feeling anything more then what was immediately mine. We climbed the flat boulders that lined her shore as I looked for the perfect place for a sunset photo. I got many pictures that night before making our way back to our car to head back to the hotel for the night. Before we bedded down, I suggested maybe that beach would be perfect for star gazing. Since it did get very dark, even in town, and that beach was pretty far removed from any light source. The boys agreed this was a great idea, so when the time was right, we returned to the rocky beach.

The darkness surrounded us as we got out of the car. We had to use the flashlights on our phones in order to see our own hands right in front of our faces. This was the kind of true darkness you don’t ever get to feel anymore. We found a spot on the beach to relax and look up. I had been waiting to feel her reach out to me again on our approach, but she kept her distance this time and I felt sad that she had stopped trying.

All our ideas on how the sky might look were totally and completely wrong. Nothing prepared me for how crowed the sky actually is. I laid there in awe, totally unaware of the work the darkness around me was doing. For a moment I wasn’t sad. My grief evaporated and I was no longer broken. In fact, because it was so dark, I didn’t really exist anymore. It was just the beach, the stars, and Lady Superior.

Looking back now, I realize that the true blackness of the night was distracting my shadows so that I could connect with Lady Superior without any pain to mar our reunion. Laying on that beach, looking up at the milky way, I reached out to her and felt her cool embrace take hold of me like a long-lost friend united. Nothing had to be said between us. She and I laid together as one on that rocky shore and lost ourselves to one another.

I was whole again, if only for the time. Together we searched the sky for the constellations we knew, but could not find Orion. I used the tricks my astronomy teacher taught me on how to follow the handle of the big dipper to the north star, and then to Orion’s shoulder, but nothing. It was like he wasn’t even there.

That night, I slept the most peaceful sleep I had had in over a year. No dreams, no broken or fragmented sleep, no pain or tears to rock me to bed. Just peaceful, restful, glorious sleep.

The following day, I suggested we return to her waters instead of trying to find more trails to hike. So, we found a place called Hunters Point and went exploring. We spent hours there, walking the trails, weaving in and out of the trees, eventually finding ourselves a little secluded spot where we could rest. The boys returned to skipping rocks and I climbed out to the furthest most rock I could to be totally surrounded by Lady Superior.

I pulled out my mesa, placed it in my lap, closed my eyes and took a deep breath to center and ground. I didn’t have to push far or with much effort to find her, because as soon as I started to reach, she scooped me up in an embrace. Tears streamed from my eyes as the connection strengthened and all the barriers I had placed, crumbled like loose sand in an hourglass. I felt her gently lift the weight of my loss and whisper to me.

“Let me carry this a while.” Her voice was gentle and strong as she pulled the sorrow from my chest and I breathed deeply for the first time in what felt like forever.

We sat like that, fully connected, her cool embrace gently softening the rough edges that had formed within me as she held my consciousness within her spirit.

“You have suffered an immense loss. A loss that has shattered a piece of you. That is why you feel so much pain and why you cannot breathe.” Her hand reached into me and touched a spot within my spirit. It felt like an electric shock going through my body. “It was here, but now it is gone. While you search for it, I will fill this space so you can be strong once again and begin to heal.”

Her words swirled around me like water, gently caressing me.

“Our emotions are like the waves, my child. We can drown in them or we can let them carry us to shore and be smoothed out against the stones. Listen to the waves. Listen to what they are telling you. Allow them to show you how.” Her voice slowly faded into the sound of the waves around me as the crashed over my spirit.

At first, fear made me resistant, but the warmth and comfort from our connection allowed me to feel safe enough to just be within the current of the water. At first, they pushed and pulled at me, forcing me this way and that, until I let go and just felt. I became the water at first. Flowing gently from the lake to the shore then back again. I felt myself crash against the rocks and pull away only to crash again. I felt myself as the rocks, being destroyed because I would not move, but then letting go again and allowing myself to be pushed and pulled by the currents of the waves and felt myself soften.

“Do you feel how the waves mimic your feelings of grief? Can you feel how they want to push you ashore? Are you willing to trust within your own strength to allow them to soften and smooth over the rough edges of your loss to reveal the beauty beneath?” She paused and let me change the waves to my emotions, and the rocks to my spirit. I let go. The grief was threatening to drown me as it slammed against me over and over again, barely allowing me to breathe between waves, but as I sat there trusting her, the waves calmed and became gentle. “You have a choice to let grief and sorrow fill the broken pieces, or you can allow them to fill with love and care for yourself. Let them wash around you instead of trying to control the way they flow.”

She gently placed me back within myself, and with a parting smile said “While you are relearning how to care for yourself, you may supplement my love for you in its place.”

I opened my eyes to a nearly calm lake before me and I smiled, truly smiled. A rock had appeared in my hand during my meditation and I placed it within my mesa. I later learned this rock came from the boys accidentally ricocheting it off of another rock and were unsure of where it landed.  

I had to return to this lesson for many months that followed, and even to this day I return to it as a reminder of what she taught me. I had been drowning myself within my grief, unable to let go of the loss of my friend, unwilling to accept the fact that she was truly gone and never coming back. Because I was gripping these emotions so tightly, I was forcing myself to experience them in their most powerful form every minute of every day instead of allowing them to be expressed naturally. Like waves. It’s best to let go and allow the true nature of things to take place because we don’t always know what’s best. We just have to trust that we will turn out ok, and allow our guides to help us when we faulter.

Just outside Copper Harbor, Mi on the shores of Lake Superior July, 2019 Photo by Caitlin Stormbreaker

Published by Lady Storm

I am a spiritual practitioner that has walked many different paths. Some could call me a jack of all trades when it comes to belief systems. While I don't hold all the answers, I hold many tools that will help unearth answers to questions anyone may have.

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