What makes headlines in the nightly news can take days to reach us on the water. More often than not, we only hear about horrific events, like the terrorist attack in Paris or yet another mass shooting, because a friend posts something on FaceBook. Which then prompts us to google to find out what’s happening in the world, that is, if we have enough bars on AT&T, or an internet connection if the marina actually supplies what they advertise.
As I write this, I am deeply saddened by recent headline news, and that’s based on limited knowledge I have from these remote marshes in Georgia. I can only imagine what CNN is reporting on a 24-hour basis. If we were living on land, I’d be glued to the news. But after 40+ days without CNN, I’m grateful that I’ve left that part of my former life behind.
On another somber note, I learned this morning that a friend “back home” in Maryland has been diagnosed with acute leukemia and will be treated at Johns Hopkins for a month in isolation. My heart is heavy with this news. I remember how much she helped me when John was sick with cancer. Cancer really sucks!
All of this, and still the world keeps turning, and we all go about our daily life and routine as we seek to balance our range of emotions. Our last few days on the water have had their own share of challenges, but they pale in comparison to health concerns, terrorism, and societal plagues.
In times like these, when I find myself searching for peace and hope, nature often provides comfort and reassurance. So when we were invited to explore Jekyll Island today, with a local resident and friend as our guide, I took my heavy heart in expectant anticipation that it would find some comfort on the largely undeveloped Jekyll Island. And it did.
We strolled on paths through canopied forests heavy with spanish moss, under live oaks whose acorns fall but not their leaves so the trees stay green throughout the winter. A white egret gracefully landed near an alligator pond, and although there was no alligator sighting today, we took delight in the other wildlife nearby. A small ring-necked snake slithered across our pine-needled path, pausing momentarily as I approached with my camera. He raised his head as if to warn me to back off. In contrast, just a few minutes later, two sea turtles poked their noses through a pond’s surface, as if to warmly greet us to their home.
But the real union with nature, and the forces of nature, came when we rounded the corner of the path and saw Driftwood Beach.
For as far as my eye could see, trees—not mere branches— laid on their sides as victims of encroaching seas and punishing winds. Roots that once held the trees firm were now perpendicular to their terra firma. The ocean waves licked at the shoreline while small trickles of seawater rushed to form puddles at the base of limbs and branches that dug into the sand as if to form new roots to hold them in place.
Ironically, this graveyard of trees offered me a glimpse into life and renewed beauty. Had these been normal trees in grassy land, rooted and alive, I may have simply passed them by. Yet on the sand, tumbled and decaying, they caught my breath and held it for many moments. Tree after tree, limb after limb. My camera couldn’t stop snapping, and my heart soared. I was in complete awe.
As I gazed upon these massive beach relics, I paused to reflect on the sad news that arrived just a few hours prior. And somehow, the sights on Driftwood Beach brought me the peace and hope that I so needed today. Peace, that the natural rhythms of life endure—in the ocean, on land, and in the winds—and offer comfort and reassurance that the world keeps spinning even when we are momentarily paralyzed by the unexpected. And hope, that there is still beauty amid destruction and decay. Indeed, I witnessed that today.
Peace and hope. I pray for both, for our country, and for my friend. And for all of us.