Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time at North Topsail Beach in North Carolina. In fact, I would say it was a sacred opportunity. Our family rented a beach house, relaxed, ate delicious food, and laughed so very hard. The entire experience filled me so much.
And I needed it.
When I arrived, I told myself that I wanted to gain some insights for myself and my wider community just by paying attention, and the ocean is unquestionably a gorgeous context for paying attention.
I suppose if there was a theme to the experience, it would involve my gratitude to spend a week living at the horizon. I found a lot of symbolic meaning there all week long. Most mornings, Ian and I woke up at 5:30 AM to walk toward the sunrise on the beach. The sun showed up daily over the eastern horizon, right on time as predicted, and given the state of the morning clouds, each sunset looked a little bit different.
Two moments at the horizon were especially incredible. One morning, we turned east to walk toward the sun while the full moon was directly behind us to the west. We were walking on the beach between the sun and the moon! They were nearly 180 degrees from one another in the sky. We enjoyed the sun on the way and the moon as we returned to go home.
Then on our last night, we had the pleasure to watch a moonrise over the ocean. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything quite like that… From the lowest part of the horizon, a full, huge, red moon rose upward from the sky, uniquely illuminated because of the position of an invisible sun. It was breathtaking.
Diana Butler Bass is a theologian and religious historian I admire quite a bit. She harkens our attention to the Horizon as a symbol for God. No matter how far we look or how far we travel in its direction, the Horizon is always before us and beyond us. Yet it is also consistently with us, continually on our plane.
I found myself thinking of that again and again this week. Sometimes, we have the sacred privilege to let our surroundings to speak to us. As I get back to a rhythm that involves work, screens, and the news cycle, I hope to continue to pay attention in this way.
And I might just find a place in Ann Arbor where I can watch a glorious sunrise.