The Greatest Show On Earth – and the Finale is up to YouFebruary 10th, 2014
I suspected it was a fluke. Something that only happened at that particular place with that particular group of people. It stopped me in my tracks like a great tragedy would.
Except it wasn’t a tragedy I was witnessing. It was something so ordinary, so basic, and yet so magnificent it made me pause in awe and wonder.
But the lesson in it, if not taken to heart, could be tragic.
The Crowds Show Up
Four days in the row, my husband, our kids and I came to the beach in Naples, FL. I had two concerts in the area and, because our kids are homeschooled, we were able to make this business trip into a short escape from winter in the Midwest.
Matthew and kids dug deep holes in the sand, made sand castles and jumped in the waves while I sat in a beach chair, took walks and just breathed. I had so much to unwind from and could feel tension from my knotted muscles, leaving my body and dissipating into the salty air.
Three out of four days, the temperatures were unusually cold, so the beach wasn’t crowded. But as the sun was nearing the horizon, the crowds showed up. Here and there was a family with small children running around energized and oblivious to time. There was an occasional group of teenagers, giggling and taking “selfies”. A few joggers passed through with their headphones on and gadgets strapped to their arms.
But mostly, there were older couples. Many of them brought chairs and blankets. Some walked slowly hand in hand, barefoot with their pants rolled up. Some talked to each other, some read books, and some simply sat in silence. All seemed (to me) to be content and at peace.
I wondered about their lives and stories. I wondered about their fights, arguments, kisses and embraces. I wished to be able to uncover their wisdom, to peek into their heads and hearts and learn (they are surely experts on relationships – many logging well over 10,000 hours of ‘together’ time – why don’t we have the ‘circles of wisdom’ any more in which the elderly pass down what they’d learned?)
Then, there was a man standing alone, still and looking in the distance. I imagined his lover being gone. I imagined his loneliness, the empty space left behind which now he filled with long hours by the ocean, simply being until the moment he would experience his Love again.
And then the great ball of fire touched the edge of the water (even on a cloudy day, everyone knew exactly when that moment happened – partly connectedness, partly smart phones’ apps).
When it did we all stopped.
All four days, in that very moment, the world (at least in Naples, FL) paused. No one moved. The young, the old, the in-between, the tourists and the locals, male and female, we all stood there facing the same golden light. We all paused, as if holding our breaths to witness the Magnificence itself.
We all had so much in common in that moment – including our smart phones, iPads and occasional cameras, and the same desire to capture what we were experiencing (which would, we all knew, happen again tomorrow).
And then, within moments, the sun was gone. Disappeared. Millions of colors painted the sky as the crowd began to applause.
People on the beach. Applauding to the sun which had set.
It wasn’t a fluke.
They applauded every night, acknowledging the great Master who provided this free, live show. One of a kind. Never to be repeated again. Not in the same moment, not with those people, not with those birds in the skies, those fish under the pier, crabs in the sand and waves slowly working themselves through the walls of a sand castle built by a man with a shovel and his three sons.
Not even when re-played on our digital devices which captured it truthfully and converted it into 1s and 0s.
As we clapped, I turned into a mush and let my tears free.
Dante said: “Yup, it did it again!” in his changing, teenage voice.
And my husband, true to his sense of humor added: “The alternative would have been pretty gloomy”.
The Party’s Over
Crowds started leaving. Long lines of people – like after a theatre or a sports game moving into the darkness toward their parked cars and on into different destinations. Some laughing, some moving in silence.
An old man was guiding his lady who was barely able to walk. They had made it to the beach to watch the sun that day. Who knows what tomorrow will bring for them.
Another woman stayed behind to quickly post her picture of the sun set and share it with her grandchildren up north who hadn’t seen the sun in weeks, or months, as if to remind them that all was good, that yes, the Sun WAS still there (and perhaps that she was still there too).
The man standing alone didn’t move.
I looked at my kids and my husband and my heart whispered: Thank you God.
Avoid the Tragedy
We all wake up one day and ask ourselves: “It’s Monday again?” or “How did that summer fly by so fast?” or “Where did all those years of my life go?”
Can pausing and clapping for a sun that sets in the sky slow the life’s rushing pace down?
Can stopping often and taking deep breaths bring us into a deeper presence and awareness of life’s veins and of Heart that makes it flow?
Can the pause between two breaths trigger a change in our soul that will lead us to our purpose?
I don’t know, but I believe that the alternative is pretty gloomy.
And that can be a tragic.
Much gratitude to our friends whom we meet while touring: Vogenthalers from Wisconsin and Spyka’s from Orlando, and who so generously hosted us during our week in Florida!
Photos used with permission.
This blog was first posted at Tajci’s blog, Journeying Through Life and Taking Notes.