Paradise, Peace and Ugly Reality

There I was, reveling in the beauty, focused on my own sweet task. The weather was unbelievable, out of season fabulous. The beach was clear and wide and clean. Impossible to tell there’d been a horrible hurricane just last year. And the water? September sweet. Warm and clean. No better place, it seemed, to lay my burden down.

And there was my cousin along with me. Her first step out into the world after a summer of back surgeries and setbacks remembering that she is a woman who travels. We have fun together, we laughed at the inconveniences. We both worked. (I worked, I read, it felt like old times. There was my brain, processing information, in what felt like forever. What was not to like?)

Well, of course, even in the midst of euphoria, reality intrudes. We’re not the only ones who came to this waterline. And not everyone came to worship.

Many came to gamble. Many came to party. Many came to work so that others can do those things. This is a town of gritty realities. I live tucked away a rural landscape where our gritty realities are spread out. Easily avoided. There’s no town square. Homeless people don’t “sleep rough in the woods.” They live right there, waking or sleeping. They panhandle.

People who gamble here do it on line, in the privacy of their homes. If they wander downstairs, dazed by their addictions or their losses, whose to see. Who’s to hear them through their thin walls, calling, begging for more money.

It was time to go home and start thinking about it all. Because that’s the irony, isn’t it. These things live side by side. We were finding Peace in this place because the price for sitting on the beach was right… and of course it was… because money was being made on folks whose seeking was so very different. But the magic of the water was there. The possibility of being present, there as well. All the tawdry tinsel in the world couldn’t change that. The couple in their 80s he in his wheelchair, she frail thing that she was, sat in the same spot every day, soaking in the wonder. The shoreline… so much happens there. Self-reflection… self-indulgence … immersion, in the water, and in the greater wonder.

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