Twelve years ago, I was staying at a convent by the sea
in Maine. I was having a “rest cure”…recommended by several
friends after an accident laid me low with chronic mono for
several months. Tho’ I had done everything I knew to get well,
the exhaustion had lingered and thoughts of the sea and quiet
and no responsibilities began to outweigh the reservations
I felt about leaving my little family.

So leave I did, and after a train ride in my own
tiny sleeper car, then a bus and then a taxi…all the while
toting my vintage beach chair, hamper of sustaining food,
flowery duffle bag and straw hat…I truly did find rest
and peace and space. I was able to both plumb the depths
and emerge refreshed. A small, simple room filled with the
sound of the sea…naps each day (sometimes twice), food and
care from the nuns (but mostly being left blessedly alone),
hours in the sun on the sand, more hours by the water
on the rocks, A Gift from the Sea and a very old
copy of Wordsworth to read, a little room of my
own in the whitewashed bath house.

I remembered those treasured days while I was reading
another Joan Anderson book this week. I had high hopes for
this one (Second Journey), for unlike the first book (her
account of a year by herself in a cottage on Cape Cod) this one
seemed to promise a look at how to hold on to the gifts
of the sea and solitude in the midst of our regular lives
(including aging parents and empty nests-so it is no
surprise I was drawn to it). Disappointingly, the core of the
book again centered on her taking herself away to a deeply
meaningful time alone on the isle of Iona. Lovely
for her to have had the opportunity, lovely for A.M.L.
to have had her time to write in her weeks by sea, lovely
for me to have had my week all those years ago.

But the question I am besotted with at the moment is
how stay home, amongst all our cares and small pleasures,
and find what seems more easily found on a glorious
mountain-top or at the edge of the majestic sea. Tho’ I
didn’t suspect it when I began this post, nor did I know
exactly why I was sharing the memories of my rest cure….
I see a glimmer of a trail to follow in the second paragraph
of this post, and will continue looking for more glimmers in
the books and old magazines I am hungrily partaking of
these days. And tho’ it will not mean time alone or time by
the sea, I am looking forward to many days in the next two
weeks when my mom will be in my brother’s care and I
will be unencumbered….or atleast, less
cumbered for a bit.

I am hoping to shift this ebb tide (first long paragraph
in the post) I have found myself in for the past many
months…it will be lovely to flow again.