Gift from the sea


"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; do not go back to sleep." - Rumi


Anne Morrow Lindburgh
Anne Morrow Lindburgh


In 1955, Anne Morrow Lindburgh, the wife of aviator Charles Lindburgh, published a wonderful little book entitled "Gift From The Sea." It's one of those little gems that didn't make bold claims, or profess to be anything other than one woman's reflections on modern life, with allegorical references to seashells - the channeled whelk, the moon shell, oyster beds, argonauta.- all written during a solitary vacation by the ocean.

Through it, you can feel her insight and inner beauty. And, experientially, find a common understanding of the tribulations we live through in a way that feels peaceful and as certain as one can expect from life. From the first chapter upon her arrival at the beach:

"One is forced against one's mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the sea-shore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today's tides of all yesterday's scribblings.

"And then, some morning in the second week, the mind wakes, comes to life again ... It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures those easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind ... But it must not be sought for or--heaven forbid!--dug for ... The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea."

Message in a bottle

I come to the ocean to reflect. The relentless waves cascade over the shimmering sand. The frothy head crests and tentatively recedes, followed by a smattering of tiny seabirds that peck in the moist sand for a meal. It pulses. Like the breath of God. The peace of constancy, a rhythmic pulse we rely upon, like our own heartbeat, our own breath. All else fades away, overshadowed by the sensory symphony before us.

The wind is heavy today. Loose sand sheets across the surface of the beach, pelting my face when it gusts. I close my eyes until it subsides and push against the wind again. My shoes are tied together, their laces held in my left hand, along with my notepad. My toes dig into the sand, and I want to walk closer to the breakers. I know the water is cold, but I want to feel its icy touch, feel the connection with the briny water.

On a previous visit here, I was walking in solitude when a couple, staring out into the water interrupted my reverie.

"Can you see them?"

"What?" I asked.

"The whales!"

I stopped and stared at the horizon, seeing nothing but whitecaps. I looked closer. And then suddenly, water shot into the air. A fin skimmed along the top of the water. Not just one but another. They played and spouted, just out of our reach. And I stared until I felt the need fulfilled - the need of knowing what I was witnessing.

Usually I bring along a camera. I like to capture the moment, so that I can access the sense of serenity the sea gives me after I return home. Unfortunately, it's a poor substitute. I need to also capture the scent, the sounds, the sting of the wind on my cheeks, the brackish aroma of the sea air. The full panorama - depth and breadth - of the visual. I want to bottle it.

But that defeats the purpose. The message isn't carried in the photo, or even in the sounds on a "sounds of the ocean" CD. The message is here. Right now. In this moment.

Finding the treasure

I walk back along the dunes, the wind still slapping against my face. At a bench, I stop to put my shoes on, so I can traverse the rocky path back to my car. In just a couple of short hours, I received the message - the transmission became clear, or perhaps it was the pummeling of the tempest against my thick skull.

Ahead of me on the path, a young mother clutches her infant, who is expressing her displeasure at the cutting gusts that disrupt her serenity. A tiny pink boot falls to the ground, unnoticed by the mother. I scoop it up and hand it to her as I pass, and she smiles.

And though I rushed to get down here, to escape from my circumstances and find tranquility, I suddenly want to head for home. There's still time to stop and absorb the views, find a trail through the woods, watch for elk, pull out my camera and try to capture the spiritual beauty of my surroundings. But I'm content; full.

From Gift From the Sea: "The waves echo behind me. Patience--Faith--Openness, is what the sea has to teach. Simplicity--Solitude--Intermittency ... But there are other beaches to explore. there are more shells to fine. This is only a beginning."

And it is.

More by this Author

Comments 19 comments

Pete Maida profile image

Pete Maida 7 years ago

I also love the shore and now I know why. My wife and I have long since stopped spending hours sitting on the beach, but we still long to be at the shore. We don't go in the water much but we love to watch the waves, hear the sounds and smell the smells. The mind gets reset and we return with new energy. Excellent hub.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks Pete - you know, I didn't initially plan to write and post these thoughts on hubpages, since it's more of an internal dialogue. But, I love to write, and doing so helps me to channel those energies - and there was a part of me that thought someone else may relate. Thanks for affirming that.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Oh the days we spent on the boat just drifting, no motor running, the current and the wind moving us, silently, slowly and warmly...Thanks I think I am gonna write a hub...this was great I Love it...G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

I love the thought of sailing; just wishing I had the income to support that habit! Any time spent on the water - boating, kayaking, swimming has an elucidative effect, like being at the ocean. Thank you for your thoughts, G-ma!

Midtown Girl profile image

Midtown Girl 7 years ago from Right where I want to be!

Seeking solace and solitude by the ocean’s edge is of great comfort to many.  In addition, there is nothing like walking along a beautiful coastal beach with someone you love.

Your hub is quite moving.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thank you, Midtown Girl! I'm looking forward to doing that very thing very very soon!

Jackwms profile image

Jackwms 7 years ago

I will be in Hawaii, island of Kauai, this May for a period of time. I look forward to walking on the beach and into the surf, watching the waves, and just meditating. Being by the ocean is relaxing and brings a sense of serenity.

Your hubs are great.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Thanks Dad - I hope you have an amazing time in Kauai!

Deb 7 years ago

I found myself almost able to feel the wind on my face and smell the scent that is only unique to the ocean when I read this. I'm a forest, river, and lake kinda gal but every time I go to the ocean, I'm humbled, I'm inspired, I'm energized!

There is a place called Salt Point, near Sea Ranch, north of Bodega Bay. This used to be my favorite camping spot. The tent opening would face the ocean, allowing a clear, unobstructed view of beautiful sunsets. The fire in the fire pit would be blazing and the sun would be this giant, red, fireball on the horizon; the ocean would shimmer with its reflection. Behind the tent were redwoods; the scent of pine, fire, and ocean breezes would fill the air. Then in the morning, when everyone was sleeping, the fog would still linger and I would make coffee and sit alone, enjoying the solitude and magnificence of the views around me.

Methinks its time for a camping trip :-)

Gerg profile image

Gerg 7 years ago from California Author

Nice imagery, Deb. I know I'll be taking the kids to at least one camping trip this summer (which passes by so quickly!)

klarawieck 4 years ago

Well, Gerg... not only did you capture the true ocean experience but you've made me fall in love with your brain! :) I just purchased the book through Amazon. I am a huge fan of the ocean - I live three blocks from the beach myself, and can see it from my apartment.

I'm not kidding you... my heart was pounding out of my chest as I read your hub, and that can only mean two things: 1. You are an incredible writer 2. I knew exactly what you described because I have the same connection with the ocean.

I have never been so excited about a hub, and I'm not much of an online reader but I will just have to make an exception for you and read EVERYTHING you write. :D

Thank you so much! This is truly inspiring! I hope you continue writing. You're extremely talented.

By the way, I had to post it on facebook, too. I hope you don't mind.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

Thank you, klarawieck (I presume that's your whole name scrunched together?) This hub I wrote in present tense, because I literally had my notepad with me and scratched out my thoughts as I was walking along the beach at Point Reyes. I came home and transferred them to the hub. The book is one that sits on my shelf of inspirational works right in front of me now, as I type. They all evoke certain feelings. You'll really enjoy Ann Morrow Lindburgh's book - she was amazing in her ability to channel the imagery of the beach, and the utter simplicity of that into print. I'd love for an opportunity to spend a whole week alone on a beach - I think she spent more than that. Can you imagine?

You made me re-read this hub, since I penned it three years ago, and I can still feel the energy of that moment. I do go there as often as I can, but I have to drive two hours to do it.

I'm honored by your praise - you made me smile. Of course I don't mind. :-)


klarawieck 4 years ago

I can't wait to get the book and read it.

You really did a great job at capturing the feeling you were trying to convey.

Klara Wieck is a borrowed name I use as a pen name. That was the maiden name of the famous German pianist and one of the first female composers of the 19th century to get her music published. She later married composer Robert Schumann. I'm a pianist, too, and love her music and accomplishments. I'm sure she wouldn't mind me borrowing her name.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

Wow. That's so much more compelling than "my name spelled backwards"!

Thank you again - my brain blushed today...

klarawieck 4 years ago

Got my book today. I started reading and it looks amazing! I'm heading to the beach right now. It seems like the proper atmosphere for this read.

Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

I'm jealous. ;-)

the clean life profile image

the clean life 4 years ago from New Jersey Shore

Gerg- Such a wonderful and moving hub. I too, like Klara live by the sea and she gave me this link to read. Everything you said here is exactly my feelings and love for the Ocean. I waited 30 years to get where I am now. Home by the sea! When reading your hub it made me feel as if I was standing right on the beach and smelling that wonderful smell of the salt air. I always said, " I wish so bad I could bottle that smell." Thank you so much for sharing this great hub.

All the best to you!

Gerg profile image

Gerg 4 years ago from California Author

Thank you, TCL. I hope to someday live closer to the sea. It gives to us endlessly, in so many ways. It's a beautiful life - I'm happy for you that you've been able to create the life you wanted, by the ocean.



the clean life profile image

the clean life 4 years ago from New Jersey Shore

Gerg- Thanks you so much and you too will get there, don't worry it will happen. It was very nice meeting you.


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