I've been thinking about relationships I've known that have weathered tough times and have even thrived after seemingly insurmountable challenges. Less dramatic, but also difficult, is learning how to see the beauty in the every day, the shifts and rhythms of a relationship during times of abundance as well as times when one feels stripped down to the bone, raw, alone. This is perhaps a quieter lesson, but it is one that asks for patience, respect, and no small dose of faith. Expressing this beautifully is the passage below from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea: "Intermittency," she writes, "-- an impossible lesson for human beings to learn. How can one learn to live through the ebb-tides of one's existence? How can one learn to take the trough of the wave?
It is easier to understand here on the beach, where the breathlessly still ebb tides reveal another life below the level which mortals usually reach. In this crystalline moment of suspense, one has a sudden revelation of the secret kingdom at the bottom of the sea. Here in the shallow flats one finds, wading through warm ripples, great horse conchs pivoting on a leg; white sand dollars, marble medallions engraved in the mud; and myriads of bright-colored cochina-clams, glistening in the foam, their shells opening and shutting like butterflies' wings.
So beautiful is the still hour of the sea's withdrawal, as beautiful as the sea's return when the encroaching waves pound up the beach, pressing to reach those dark rumpled chains of seaweed which mark the last high tide.Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid. And my shells? I can sweep them all into my pocket. They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally."
I've been rereading this passage off and on all afternoon. It's low tide now as I type this. The waves have pulled back to reveal dinner for the seagulls as well as rocks upon which to sit and soak in the last rays of the afternoon sun. My love sits near me reading a book. Tonight there will be pasta and candles and the moon and stars. We will celebrate the equinox and another autumn together as the tide rolls back in toward the shore.