Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Healing Porch

I awoke this morning to a temperature of about 50 degrees (F), a sky with tinges of rose gold, and a nearly calm off-shore breeze. Walking out to the steps leading down from the dunes, and crossing the sandy beach to the edge of the incoming tide, I could see only a few others out ahead of the sun. It is a ritual I follow every year when we come down from our mountain for a week on this island in South Carolina: getting out before sunrise and walking north or south along the shore until the sky is fully committed to the day.
As always, there are a few others ahead of me walking, watching, waiting for the sun to disrobe, to tell us what the day will bring. It was 19 degrees when I stood out on the mountain yesterday to watch the opening of day, the sky gradually getting lighter, the air a little warmer. In the mountains or at the shore, offering my greeting to the new day holds a special place in my life. Part of it is that most primitive of reasons, I suspect: the knowledge that when the world renews itself, I am still a part of it, still alive to the cold or the heat, the calm or moving air, the scents of life, the light of sun. It is a renewal we all share every day that we awaken.
Another part of my ritual here at the shore is to photograph the joining of the sky with the horizon, taking pictures as the redness makes the first blush of color along the line, then again as it brightens, again when the red ball is still partially submerged in the sea, and finally when it stands clear of the horizon. Then it is back to the dunes, back to the stairway leading up and over, back to the big screened deck on the second floor of the house, the place our friend calls the "healing porch." Here she and I and the other early risers share the first cup of coffee, the first conversations of the day, the first warmth of the sun, and the healing begins anew.
I find the mountains healing, as I think I have since I was first introduced to them at about the age of five or six. It has taken many decades to discover the restorative power of sand and sea and sun. It is one of the things I truly look forward to, as well as the simple distance from our daily life of responsibilities, of family and home and commitments to other people and things. But it is that first step out of the house, that going to the edge of the land where the sea washes my feet, where the breeze combs my hair, where the sun renews my vision, that I truly feel the renewal each day brings.
This is what the whole world needs: a healing porch.

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