Whatever you lose, like a you or me…

I never want to find myself landlocked.

I have always lived near the sea and would grieve the loss of it deeply if I ever had to move away. My memories are entwined with it as intimately and vitally as vein, artery, blood and heart.

I have had many special ritual moments by the sea. Once, a friend and I floated swan feather ‘boats’ as the sun rose at Eastney Point. The feathers were taken out to sea by the fast moving currents. We had ‘placed’ within them any pain that needed healing, surrendering it to the ocean that she might tenderly cleanse and uphold us. It was so moving to watch those little ‘boats’ riding the stream of such strong currents out into the ocean beyond the harbour entrance; the rising sun brightened the waters whilst terns and black-headed gulls dropped from the air like darts, the only sounds being the ‘plop’ of their bodies hitting the surface as they fished for their breakfast.

Whilst I lived in Portsmouth, Eastney Point was a favourite place to visit for both ritual and just to be quiet. It was there during a Summer Solstice ritual – once again at dawn – that we were honoured to witness the most spectacular of lighting storms. It was a powerful experience, the sun rising amongst clouds above Portsdown Hill to the northeast, these dramatic clouds channelling its light only to intensify the angry storm clouds above us and out to sea. Due to strange atmospherics, the lightning was an extraordinary pink. It came to ground on the other side of the harbour entrance, whilst out at sea, its enormous forks of electricity – vivid pathways from cloud to sea – split and multiplied the closer they came to the water’s surface.

Now that I live on an island, the sea has become even more entwined in the rhythms of my own being. I am quite literally surrounded by it. Even if you are inland here, all of the Island’s high places grant spectacular views of it.

My home, Sandown Bay, is a vast arch of sand that reaches from the white chalk of Culver Cliff right round to the dark sandstone of Dunnose Head. There are many beaches in between these two points but Yaverland – beneath Culver’s White and Red Cliffs in the east of the bay – is the one that draws me most. It is the loneliest and the most stunning and the one I go to locally if I want to be quiet, if I am feeling blue or in need of answers. I have written about it often here on this Blog.

I haven’t been there nearly enough this year and yet I see it when I walk into Sandown. This time of year, Culver’s great chalk face turns the most delicate pink as the sun sets. It’s a fundamental part of the landscape for everyone that lives here, and as such has become a fundamental part of my own inner landscape; its distinctive shape speaks of home.

The experience of living on an island naturally means that the ocean can become a kind of wall or barrier. You certainly feel this when you get on the ferry and find yourself, fifteen or so minutes later, in a different world. The insularity can be a problem; on the one hand that stretch of water that separates us from the life of the mainland – both its exciting and its troublesome aspects – can feel soothingly protective, however, for this very reason, it can also be stifling too. That beautiful stretch of water also separates us from those that we love and from experiences that can shake us out of our insularity.

And yet, the beauty of water is that it connects us too, not only by sailing it and journeying across it but by the simple fact that the oceans act like a vast and unifying flow that embraces all the land masses of the earth. The ocean’s powerful and magically fluid substance connects not only all the peoples of the earth but all life too. If I crouch down to touch the water as it moves up across the sand at Yaverland, the water I have touched will eventually be touched by everything that exists, whether by the contact with sea, or river or rain or snow, or even the water from a tap. When you next run your hands through the breaking waves upon the shore you will be touching me. We can send love and a longing for connection across this seemingly unbridgeable vastness and it will always find its target.

The paradox of water is that it both connects us and separates us. And here I am on my beautiful Island, trying to find the balance between that closeness and distance. I now understand why so many old stories of the sea are so full of longing…

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7 Comments

  1. john said,

    December 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Lovely photo Maria, yes always feel getting off the ferry at Portsmouth Harbour is like entering the hustle bussle of a different world. It would be nice if you could make it to one of Vav`s events, just outside Ryde (can`t be more specific than that).
    Blessings, John

  2. luckyloom1 said,

    December 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Hi John,

    Thank you! I took it on a very chilly winter’s day at Alum Bay; it was a lovely sunset. I remember it well because I was also treated to the company of very friendly fox in the car park. Sorry, what are Vav’s events? You have me intrigued now!
    Blessings! M

    • john said,

      December 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Maria, if you look up Aldermoor Farm, she`s a lady that amongst other things runs Earth Wisdom Workshops, which are very popular there is one a week Saturday but is I think full and other workshops throughout the year.
      Best wishes,
      John.

  3. luckyloom1 said,

    December 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Many thanks John! Sounds really interesting – I will look into that.
    Blessings, M

    • john said,

      December 8, 2010 at 11:32 pm

      Great, we might meet sometime.
      Blessings John

  4. Christine Croft said,

    December 9, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Lovely pic and writing.Earth Wisdom W.Shops sound interesting! Definitely going to come and visit the island next year. Lots of Love, Chrisx

  5. luckyloom1 said,

    December 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks Chris! Yes you must come visit!! You must come and stay and we can have a proper catch-up. Hope you are managing to stay warm out on those chilly fens!

    Much love, Mxxx


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