It was never about the sun, those early mornings on the sand. Every Sunday, the three of us would meet there in the quiet hours before the tourists and locals set up their tanning stations. The beach was our church, in those days. We’d sit in the same spot every week. Talking. Reading. Observing.
When I stuck my toes in the sand, I felt connected to the world around me. The sound of the ocean rolling up on the shoreline soothed me.
We weren’t the only congregants to return each week. There was another trio, though they all weren’t connected to each other. We never knew their names, so we created our own sobriquets. There was “Al,” a short, heavyset old man whose voice sounded as if he ate glass for breakfast. His companion, a tall and lean old man, was “Thong Man”—no explanation required.
Sitting off to the side was “Lola”, and while there was never any evidence presented to support it, I had (and still have) no doubt that, at some point in her life, “Lola” was a showgirl. This tiny, shriveled old woman, white hair piled high atop her head, always wore a leopard-patterned, one-piece bathing suit and oversized cat-eye sunglasses. Each Sunday, she’d take a quick stroll to the water, wade in until the water reached her knees, and then turned around and headed back to her chaise where, without fail, she’d turn and ask us, “Do you have the time?”
I don’t know why we stopped these sacred Sunday gatherings. Perhaps life got in our way.
I do know that I’d forgotten what it felt like to connect to the world around me—until this afternoon. At first, as Mel and I sat on the empty chaises we’d found, I thought only to take photographs and videos with my iPhone, to post them to Instagram. As I aimed the camera lens at the water, “Al” and “Thong Man” and “Lola” found their way into my thoughts. There were no iPhones in those days, no cameras on our not-very-smart cellphones. I haven’t a single picture of the trio that amused us so much at the end of the previous century. But I remember what they looked like, and their voices, and the sound of the gulls and terns flying above or foraging on the sand. I remember everything because I was so very present to that moment in time.
So I put my iPhone away, and I leaned back in the chaise, and I sat in silence (with Mel’s blessing). We listened to the sound of the surf, and watched a little boy—he couldn’t have been older than two or three—kick his ball around the beach with the intensity of someone solving climate change. We marveled at the windsurfers, and wondered if the jellyfish that looked like a breast implant would be disappeared by the waves washing up on the sand (it was).
It was a sacred Sunday; the perfect Sunday. I had reconnected to the world and felt renewed. I was baptized in a soundbath of joyfulness, and I go into the week excited for what I’ll create.