Cheryl and Dudley's Sailbatical Adventure
Seeking Peace and Hope in Times of Sadness (Day 46)

Seeking Peace and Hope in Times of Sadness (Day 46)

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.

White egret near an alligator pond.
White egret near an alligator pond on Jekyll Island.

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.

Friend and Guide Paul with Dudley on one of many pedestrian/bike paths on Jekyll Island.
Friend and Guide Paul with Dudley on one of many pedestrian/bike paths on Jekyll Island.

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.

Two sea turtles welcomed us.
Two sea turtles welcomed us.

But the real union with nature, and the forces of nature, came when we rounded the corner of the path and saw Driftwood Beach.

Massive driftwood, as far as the eye could see.
Massive driftwood, as far as the eye could see.
Driftwood, with grass forming beneath.
Driftwood, with weedy grass forming beneath.

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.

Roots are 90 degrees to the sand.
Roots are 90 degrees to the sand.

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.driftwood trunk

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.

Birds frolic in the waters framed by the arch of this tree.
Birds frolic in the waters framed by the arch of this tree.

Peace and hope. I pray for both, for our country, and for my friend. And for all of us.

12 Responses to Seeking Peace and Hope in Times of Sadness (Day 46)

  1. So enjoyed your latest blog, we sometimes forget to pause in this mad mad world and whilst we cannot ignore the traumas of life, it is so important to sometimes stop, breathe and be still.

    • Thanks Jane. I’m so glad you are following our blog. I was just thinking about you the other day. I think it’s been two years since we were together in Michigan when the car was parked “on the yard!” I’m wondering if any of my blog stories or words contain different meanings for the British? LOL!

  2. Cheryl, I’m enjoying the chronicles of your voyage so much. The pictures of Driftwood Beach are so beautiful and speak volumes to me about life. Keep sharing!



    • Thanks Annie. That beach literally took my breath away and certainly provided the peace and hope I needed yesterday. So glad you felt it too, just by seeing the photos. And thanks so much for following our blog!

  3. Cheryl, your writing skills are over the top! You had me thinking I was reading a chapter in your new novel coming out just in time for the holidays. I enjoyed your walk today, I felt as though I was there too.

    • Thanks Bob! I thought about you so much as I was standing among those driftwood trees. You really must visit Jekyll Island for a photography retreat. They just opened a Westin here, on the beach, and I hear rates are as low as $139 over New Years. Off season is absolutely breathtaking! And thanks for the kind words about my writing. I have a novel brewing from some of these adventures. We’ll see….

  4. Have enjoyed your writings/Blog & pictures. Received our first Christmas card today from your former Sunday School teachers @ Col. Bapt., Frank & Margaret. You were always their ‘Star Pubil’!

    • So glad you were able to read this blog post. Sending warm hugs to you from Jekyll Island.

  5. Cheryl,

    First chance to see your blog…incredible driftwood images!
    Where will you be on christmas, are you able to predict? My aunt and uncle were big protectors of the Florida Everglades….even had a resident alligator in the canal they lived adjacent to….in Fort Lauderdale.

    • Janice, thank for following along. We hope to be near Cape Canaveral by Christmas. Leaving boat at a marina to fly “home” for the holidays. Still deciding how far south we’ll go after that. If we hop to Bahamas, it will be from near Vero Beach (I think) so we may not get to Fort Lauderdale or Miami. And yes, that Driftwood Beach was a highlight of our trip thus far!

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Cheryl Duvall and Dudley Whitney

3 Church Circle, Unit #138

Annapolis, MD 21401

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