Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On a wing and a prayer

 An abnormally mild January morning, I come upon an unusual find. Clusters of sanderlings moving in tandem encircle the water’s edge, arriving at their summer sandy beach habitat four months early.

Sanderlings usually descend on our Rhode Island coastlines sometime in May and return again from July through October. They are rare in winter.

On spindly legs, these interesting creatures run ahead of oncoming waves in parties of ten to twelve. They weave a magical dance, as they hop, lunge and fly about with nervous energy.

Members of the sandpiper family, sanderlings are about eight-inches tall and have a white head and underbelly, gray upper parts, short bill and heavily spotted back. The bend of their wing is black.

Warmed by bright sunshine, I sit in our truck with the window wide open on this windless day. The Sakonnet sparkles like diamonds, flashing pools of light that rhythmically wash ashore. I am content, as I ponder the sanderlings mysterious comings and goings.

A biblical verse comes to mind: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalms 19:1)


Like the sandpipers these days, I am in unchartered territory. This is my second blog post, and I’m flying solo. As a journalist, I am taking a small step outside my usual sphere. I still hold a corporate job that I love, and sometimes I long to fly back into the fold, surrounded by colleagues in my comfort zone. But as I taste my freedom, I nudge myself forward and venture a little farther on unfamiliar turf.

A blog offers the author endless possibilities. I am no longer limited by geographic borders or topics.

As a nature and spirituality writer, I am going on pilgrimage to explore and rediscover the world around me and take you along.

“I watch the running sheets of light raised on the creek’s surface. The sight has the appeal of the purely passive, like the racing of light under clouds on a field, the beautiful dream at the moment of being dreamed,” said Annie Dillard in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.” “The breeze is the merest puff, but you yourself sail headlong and breathless under the gale force of the spirit.”


I leave the sanderlings and seagulls at the seashore, and on a wing and a prayer, I embark on this spiritual journey. Migrate with me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thanks, Tim Tebow

Whipped by the wind, the water is wild at Fogland State Beach, smashing into rocks and spewing white spray everywhere.

I spot new construction at the Point, a good sign in this sluggish market. But what jumps out at me on this bitter January morning is the roof frame, held up by a cross beam.

This gets me thinking about spirituality and how it holds us up when the winds of fortune batter us about.

The media is still abuzz with news about Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow and his miraculous ascent to the playoffs, despite his loss to the Patriots. Taking a knee in the parlance of the game will never mean the same again.

Facing the opponent and the vagaries of the often brutal game, Tebow drops to one knee, with his elbow on the other knee, places fist to forehead and prays on the football field, seemingly unaware of his surroundings – even in the midst of 68,756 screaming fans at Gillette Stadium – as he communicates with his God.

While this outward sign of faith has become a worldwide phenomenon, it is Tebow’s own words in a constant barrage of interviews that best relate his innate spirituality.

Bated and battered with questions from reporters about his unlikely rise to superstardom, Tebow answered candidly, admitting his faults, praising and encouraging his teammates even after they dropped the ball, and stressing that he will continue to try his best with the help of Jesus.

When asked about his future plans before the playoff game, he told the reporter:  “It’s definitely not Super Bowl or bust. … Whatever happens, I’ll definitely count this season as a blessing and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

Perhaps this statement reveals the secret to his success.

Whether he’s Tebowing before the game or after a touchdown pass, or answering another tough question in front of a camera, he always gives thanks.

Philosopher, medical missionary and theologian Albert Schweitzer in “Reverence for Life” wrote: “The great thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live… He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”

Many great athletes behave badly, and this season Tebow offered fans an alternative: someone with integrity. Tapping into the Source of his strength, he gives his all and is full of thanks whatever the outcome.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world,” said author Sarah Ban Breathnach.

The wind lobbing sand at the windshield finally gets my attention, and before I drive away, I pause and give thanks for windy winter beaches, soaring surf, faith, football and Tim Tebow.

It’s just too cold to take a knee.