Father

Print This Post Print This Post December 31, 2009 on 5:34 pm | In Courage, Death, Love, Relationships, Spiritual | Comments Off on Father

Father

Deep in slumber,
Cradled in the heart of darkness,
The silence parts to cellular music
Inviting me to awaken
And dream no more.

From the far side of the planet
My sister’s soft voice
Conveys in tones and pauses
An immensity
That mere words cannot capture:

Our father has died. 

Alone in my bed I breathe:
Slowly and deeply in, filling my chest with the promise of life;
A pause then, as I consider my destiny
And the gap between my dreams and waking life;
And finally release, as I surrender to the moment:
Broken, empty, and utterly spent.

As the tears begin to pool
In eyes that search the ceiling, the heavens, the stars,
For answers to an elusive, lifelong quest
I blink and the rivers begin to flow
For my father, for me,
And for each precious, sacred child
That dares to dance and sing
With its heart split wide open.

And as the rivers flow
I know that I am loved
That I have always been loved
And that this chest is being hollowed out
To contain even more love, more tears, more joy
Than I have ever known or can know.

Where the rivers meet the sea
The Earth is soft and pure and clean
And our footsteps leave their temporary imprints
On the sands of time.
 
Father, when I was young you always led the way
Discerning the trail that would carry us to the mountain’s top –
Our next adventure, our continuing quest –
And I was glad to follow.

Again you lead the way
But here on the beach
We walk side by side
With the luminous Nazarene ahead
Beckoning us forward

And as we are met
His embrace enfolds us
In a peace that blossoms from deep within –
A soft explosion of white rose petals
That gently settle and carpet our hearts
With the fragrance of love.

Placing his holy hands upon my shoulders
He looks into me with loving eyes that pierce my every defense
Then holds me again as his unspoken message sinks in:
I can follow no further,
It is time for me to return.

As he takes your hand and turns to lead the way home
You glance backwards with tears of joy
Streaming down your stubbled cheeks,
With the light of love shining in your eyes,
And smile at me.

At last I turn to face our footprints in the sand
While gentle waves dance and foam along the shore
Washing away every trace of our passing.

I love you, Father
And I receive your love:
A love for which there are no words:

Unconditional, unbounded and eternal.

In loving memory of my father, William L. Scott
December 26, 1935 – December 2, 2009

Back from Vacation: Beach Holidays, Rip Currents, Salvation and Life Saving

Print This Post Print This Post August 24, 2008 on 5:35 pm | In Adventure, Awareness, Courage, Fear, Fitness, Relationships | Comments Off on Back from Vacation: Beach Holidays, Rip Currents, Salvation and Life Saving
El Arco, Cabo San Lucas

El Arco, Cabo San Lucas

I have just returned home from a family vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico yesterday evening, and am still trying to catch up on the email, bills, and other accouterments of modern life that accumulated during my absence.  Despite the piles of paperwork I need to deal with I decided to take a moment and treat myself to a brief blog entry to recount a couple of unusual happenings during my vacations.

The Cabo area of Mexico, situated at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, has some truly spectacular beaches, two of which in particular will remain in my memory for some time to come – Playa Los Cerritos and Playa del Amor

Playa Los Cerritos

Playa Los Cerritos

Playa Los Cerritos is located northwest of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast of the peninsula and is a popular surfing beach.  As we were visting during low season, the beach was not crowded at all and we had lots of room to play in the waves.  Fortunately for us, the beach was not completely deserted, as even during low season the waves attract a fair number of surfers.

Although I consider myself a reasonably strong swimmer, I gained a new respect for the power of the Pacific Ocean as a result of our experience at Los Cerritos.  The western edge of this beach has some rock cliffs that we inadvertently discovered act as a natural barrier that sets up a very strong rip current out towards the sea.  My wife is not a very strong swimmer and does not like to go into water above her head: she therefore tends to be very cautious and stay close by me and my daughters whenever she ventures into the ocean – and it is a very good thing that she did so on the day we visited Los Cerritos.  While me and my daughters were body surfing the waves, my wife attempted to catch a ride and when she came up to the surface at the end of her ride found that the wave she was riding had pushed her close to rocks – and into the rip current. 

Although I had been lecturing my daughters on the drive up on what to do if they got caught in a rip current (swim parallel to the beach – perpendicular to the current – rather than trying to fight it) by the time I saw my wife and asked her if she was okay (the response was a firm “No!”), she was already very frightened and starting to panic as the water was too deep for her to stand in.  I swam to my wife as quickly as I could and told my daughter to go call for help.

Although it only took me 15 or 20 seconds to swim to my wife, by the time I reached her the water was also too deep for me to stand in, and now we were both in the middle of the rip current and being pulled out to sea.  Two things became readily apparent to me as soon as I told my wife to grab onto me:

  1. It is one thing to be a strong swimmer on your own and something entirely different to be a strong swimmer when assisting someone else.  Although my wife was not clinging to me around my throat or pushing my head under water, the fact that she was hanging on to me in a more or less vertical position made her body act like a sea anchor that caught the current and pulled us both in the direction of the current (out to sea).  Moreover, I am not trained in life saving, and initially attempted to swim with one arm around her – this did not prove particularly effective.
  2. It is much easier to intellectually know what one is supposed to do in an emergency situation from a theoretical standpoint than it is to actually act on that knowledge in an emergency.  Looking back at my initial reaction in the heat of the moment, I can see that I did precisely what I lectured my girls NOT to do: I tried to fight the current and swim back to shore so my wife would stop panicking.  Luckily, I came to my senses before I exhausted myself and told my wife to hold on to the back of my swim trunks (so I could swim with both arms) while I gradually swam perpendicular to the rip current and then once the current subsided headed back towards shore.

By the time I started swimming back towards shore I was pretty tired (and my wife could sense this) and we were quite a distance from the shore.  Although we were making slow progress towards the shore I was extremely relieved (elated!) when I saw a surfer that my daughter had managed to hail paddling out to help us.  When he finally reached us he asked us if this was some sort of joke – he was apparently confused by the fact that I was swimming towards shore without yelling while my wife was holding on to my swim trunks shouting for help.  I assured him that this was not a joke, and that we needed to put my wife on his surf board because she was essentially a non-swimmer in these water depths.

As soon as we got my wife onto the board I was able to breathe a sigh of relief – a huge weight had been taken off of my shoulders and now that everyone was horizontal / hydrodynamic it was a relatively quick and painless swim back to the shore.  We thanked the surfer profusely, and went back to sit down on the beach, catch our breath, and thank God for our salvation!  We were both shaken by this mishap, and I certainly gained a new level of respect for the power and immensity of the ocean.   I also gained a new level of appreciation for the strength, endurance and training it must take to be a competent lifeguard.

Playa del Amor

Playa del Amor

Our second vacation incident occurred four days later we visited one of the most famous beaches in Cabo San Lucas, Playa del Amor, which is situated next to the famous Arch (El Arco) of Cabo pictured at the beginning of this post.  The day we visited this beach was fairly rough and we had our hands full just getting off of the glass bottomed boat that took us out to the beach.  My wife quite rightly decided to stay out of the surf and spent most of her time photographing the amazing cliffs that surround the beach.  My daughters and I did a bit of snorkeling, but soon returned to the beach because the visibility was not that great due to sand being stirred up by the surf.  Moreover, we did not see the variety of marine life that we had seen at other beaches.

After my daughters and I returned to the beach and spoke with my wife, we decided to catch the next boat back to our hotel so that we could go to a calmer beach where my wife and youngest daughter (age 10) could enjoy themselves.  While we were waiting for our boat to return, we suddenly heard someone shouting for help.  Off to my left I could see a group of oriental tourists in the water pointing to a woman and young boy that had drifted away from the beach and were being pulled by the current towards the rock cliffs.  Like a number of beaches near Cabo, Playa del Amor does not have a lifeguard on duty. 

I gave my wife a quick glance, took a deep breath, and dove into to the water.  By the time I reached them someone else had already made it to the young boy (who had been thrown against the rocks by a wave and gotten pretty cut up) so I swam to the woman who was getting closer to the rocks and seemed to be in a state of shock.  She was not panicking, but she was also very unresponsive, so I started swimming with her back towards the beach in the meantime trying to keep her away from the rocks.  Another man quickly came out to assist me and we had her back on the beach in less than a minute.  Both the woman and the young boy were alright, although the young boy did have some pretty bad cuts on his side where he had been thrown against the rocks.  My feet and one of my legs had gotten cut while I was trying to fend off the rocks, but none of my cuts were very serious. 

As I went back to rejoin my family, I couldn’t help wondering – what message is Spirit trying to send me?  Why this emphasis on life saving during my vacation?  And why did that particular word – salvation – come into my head each time when I made it back to the beach?  As all of this just happened I do not have answers to these questions, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that answers will become apparent in the coming days and weeks.

Playa Santa Maria

Playa Santa Maria

As a final aside, I should mention that Baja California does have some very safe and relatively calm beaches as well!  Playa Chilenos and Playa Santa Maria in particular – which are quite close to one another, and located in between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo – are much more family friendly in terms of both waves and currents.  They are also superb snorkeling beaches with an amazing abundance of marine life. 

Playa Chilenos

Playa Chilenos

Playa Chilenos also has a feature that rates high on my list after our recent vacation experiences – a lifeguard!  So I can definitely still recommend Cabo San Lucas as an excellent beach destination – just be sure you know your capabilities and limitations before you venture too far out!

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