Sunday, July 10, 2016


Walking along the beach, I came upon a most unusual find. A gnarled tree trunk intertwined with roots had drifted in with the tide, the largest piece of driftwood that I have ever seen along this coastline.

Driftwood is perfectly named. Propelled by winds, waves and tides, it is wood that drifts in the currents and washes up on the beach. Sometimes it provides shelter for birds and plants or becomes the foundation for sand dunes.

For me, the driftwood became a metaphor for a mid-July state of mind.

The start of summer brought with it a frenzy of activities. But by the middle of summer, like the driftwood, many of us yearn for unstructured time to just float along with no sense of direction. We crave escape, to hide from humanity for just a little while.

I identify these feelings when my creativity starts to wane. The words jumble together in my mind, and I have to push and pull them into meaning. I know I’m burning out, and I have to get away.

For our vacation, my husband and I head to New Hampshire and the sanctuary of the White Mountains. Like the sea, the mountains are a very spiritual place.

The pilgrimage reminds me of the biblical passage when Jesus withdraws from the crowds. In Luke 9:28, the evangelist tells us that “He … went up onto a mountain to pray.”

St. Augustine wrote that “the thought of You (God) stirs us so deeply ... our hearts find no peace until they rest in You.”

It is this peace my soul seeks.

I never tire of gazing at the mountains and listening to the surge of ice-cold streams tumbling down the cliffs.

I know this particular part of New Hampshire so well that I am no longer a tourist. Every turn in the road is familiar, and the wind in the pines a wordless prayer.

Reading in this idyllic spot, I find harbor in other seekers’ words; but for one week I resist the urge to string my own words together. My mind will lie fallow in order to replenish itself.

By the end of the week, however, my thoughts turn toward home. I feel that familiar ache for Fogland and the rush and rhythm of the waves.

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering,” wrote St. Augustine. 

We are spiritual seekers on a quest filled with wonder. The place to begin the journey is within.